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JOE DIMAGGIO

NEW YORK TIMES

CLEVELAND-In a brilliant setting of lights and before 67,468 fans, the largest crowd ever to see a game of night baseball in the major leagues, the Yankees tonight vanquished the Indians, 4 to 3, but the famous hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio finally came to an end. Officially it will go into the records as fifty-six consecutive games, the total he reached yesterday. Tonight in Cleveland’s municipal stadium the great DiMag was held hitless for the first time in more than two months.

Al Smith, veteran Cleveland left-hander and a Giant cast-off, and Jim Bagby, a young righthander, collaborated in bringing the DiMaggio string to a close. Jolting Joe faced Smith three times. Twice he smashed the ball down the third-base line, but each time Ken Keltner, Tribe third sacker, collared the ball and hurled it across the diamond for a put-out at first. In between these two tries, DiMaggio drew a pass from Smith.

Then, in the eighth, amid a deafening uproar, the streak dramatically ended, though the Yanks routed Smith with a flurry of four hits and two runs that eventually won the game. With the bases full and only one out Bagby faced DiMaggio and, with the count at one ball and one strike, induced the renowned slugger to crash into a double play. It was a grounder to the shortstop, and as the ball flitted from Lou Boudreau to Ray Mack to Oscar Grimes, who played first base for the Tribe, the crowd knew the streak was over.

However, there were still a few thrills to come, for in the ninth, with the Yankees leading, 4 to 1, the Indians suddenly broke loose with an attack that for a few moments threatened to send the game into extra innings and thus give DiMaggio another chance. Gerald Walker and Grimes singled, and, though Johnny Murphy here replaced Lefty Gomez, Larry Rosenthal tripled to score his two colleagues. But with the tying run on third and nobody out the Cleveland attack bogged down in a mess of bad base-running and the Yanks’ remaining one-run lead held, though it meant the end of the streak for DiMaggio, who might have come up fourth had there been a tenth inning.

“I can’t say that I’m glad it’s over,” DiMaggio said after the game. “Of course, I wanted it to go on as long as it could. Now that the streak is over, I just want to get out there and keep helping to win ball games.” It was on May 15 against the White Sox at the Yankee Stadium that DiMaggio began his string, which in time was to gain nationwide attention. As the great DiMag kept clicking in game after game, going into the twenties, then the thirties, he became the central figure of the baseball world.

On June 29, in a doubleheader with the Senators in Washington, he tied, then surpassed the American League and modern record of forty-one games set by George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns in 1922. The next target was the all-time major league high of forty-four contests set by Willie Keeler, the famous Oriole star, forty-four years ago under conditions much easier then for a batsman than they are today. Then there was no foul-strike rule hampering the batter. But nothing hampered DiMaggio as he kept getting his daily hits, and on July 1 he tied the Keeler mark. The following day he soared past it for No. 45, and he kept on soaring until tonight. In seeking his fifty-seventh game, he finally was brought to a halt.

Joe DiMaggio’s consecutive-game hitting streak has been among the most enduring records in sports. Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds has come the closest to matching it, hitting in 44 consecutive National League games in 1978.