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It was 78 years ago today that the great Joe DiMaggio failed to get a hit against the Indians, ending his hitting streak at a record 56 games.
Now, you might be wondering why I'm bringing this up in a newsletter. I'm in the same boat. As a wise editor in Kansas City once told me, "the key part of 'news' is 'new" and this ain't."
BUT ... that editor never had to write a sports newsletter in the middle of the slowest week of the sports calendar.
ALSO ... baseball could really use someone to take a run at DiMaggio's record, don't you think?
Baseball needs a hero
I've often wondered what it'd take for baseball to reverse this never-ending cycle of media negativity where it currently resides.
Each time, I come back to the same solution.
Someone either needs to take a run at .400 (also last achieved in 1941, by Ted Williams) or do the impossible and make a deep run at DiMaggio's record. Doing so would give baseball a positive national story in an increasingly parochial game and it'd keep the sport at the top of the headlines for an extended period of time.
An unlikely story
After all, the closest anyone has come to DiMaggio in three-quarters of a century was a 44-game run in 1978. And that was only from the greatest hitter of all time, Pete Rose.
The longest streak in 2019? A whopping 19 games by a guy I'm willing to wager most of you have never heard of, Pittsburgh's Kevin Newman.
With the rise of the bullpen and the three true outcomes, it's unlikely anyone might even top the longest streak of this century — a 38-game run by Jimmy Rollins that went from 2005 into 2006.
But you never know
Then again, people once thought no one would ever top Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 games played and Cal Ripken broke that record to help erase the sting of the 1994 strike.
Topping Roger Maris' 61 home runs seemed like a long shot until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa spread the last shovel of dirt on the '94 bitterness and became a bigger story than even the NFL in the fall of 1998.
DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak might be the most untouchable record in sports and yet that's precisely why anyone making a run at it would be such an attention-grabbing story.
In a game of numbers, it remains the biggest one out there.