For as long as baseball is played, 1941 will be treasured as one of its very finest seasons. Only in a magical year would Ted Williams after hitting .406 and leading the league in home runs – not win the Most Valuable Player award.
That honor went to Joe DiMaggio in recognition of perhaps the most unbreakable and purest of all baseball records hitting safely in 56 consecutive games.
The streak began with a single on May 14 off pitcher Ed Smith of Chicago and lasted for two months until Cleveland’s third baseman Ken Keltner helped end it with two outstanding plays. After the game in which the streak was stopped, DiMaggio hit safely in another 16 games, meaning that he hit safely in 72 of 73 games over a period of three months.
The streak, which doesn’t include DiMaggio’s hit in the All-Star game, cemented his status as one of America’s greatest ballplayers of all time.
He became such a sensation that the Les Brown Orchestra recorded "Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio," a song that became a huge radio hit. Joe also became a national posterboy for Louisville Slugger bats. Even the famous "Casey at the Bat" poem was rewritten with DiMaggio in mind. Joe, in typical fashion, said only that he was sorry the streak was over and that he would continue to concentrate on winning ballgames. The streak, now nearly 60 years old, remains one of America’s most respected sports feats.
DiMaggio hit .357 for the 1941 season and had more than 30 home runs for the fifth straight season. His selection as MVP capped off a truly remarkable season.