Joe DiMaggio’s Streak, Game 10: Watching DiMaggio Was a Routine of Life

Joe DiMaggio. The Swing

Joe DiMaggio. The Swing

Joe DiMaggio’s Streak: Game 10, May 24, 1941

Earl Lewis lived in the Upper West Side of New York City. Just a couple of blocks from the American Museum of Natural History at 79th Street and Central Park West, Lewis’ digs were simple, inexpensive and, besides, he figured something big was in his life.

At 21, he wasn’t sure yet, but he knew he’d find his destiny in New York City.

His apartment, a little studio, was inexpensive. There were five small flats just like Lewis’ on his second floor.

“It was $38 a month. I was making about $11 a day waiting at two restaurants,” Lewis told The Davis (Calif.) Enterprise newspaper 60 years later. “I had energy. Things weren’t very expensive. You could buy a loaf of bread for 10 cents. Milk was like 20 cents a gallon. I had a friend in Fort Lee (New Jersey) with a car.

“For 19 cents a gallon, and the top down, we were kings of the world.”

But Lewis lived for two things: Wednesday afternoons at Yankee Stadium and watching Joe D. hit.

“That stance. Spread, bat back. Seemingly able to handle anything,” the late Lewis told the newspaper. “He had no weak spots. He was unflappable. At the plate he was dynamic, a vision, frightening to all opposing pitchers.”

Lewis, for now, had the world by the tail. He had spending money. The economy finally felt like it was turning around.

On Saturday, May 24, with the Red Sox still in town, Lewis had to work. Meanwhile, so did the Yankees.

With the Yanks trailing 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, DiMaggio was 0-for-3. Two on, one out with Earl Johnson on the mound, DiMaggio probably hoped Johnson would try to get on top in the count. He guessed right: that first-pitch fastball was lined to center, scoring two and setting the stage for what would be a game-winning, four-run rally.

When Lewis got the news, he was delighted.

“I had the next day off,” Lewis explained.

Instead of riding around with friends, he was headed to 161st Street in the Bronx. Sunday, no work, Ted Williams vs. DiMaggio.

Heaven on Earth.

Lewis died in 2001. But he found his calling—not in the Big Apple, but in California as an engineer in the aerospace industry. He never forgot his formative years in New York, though.

“Nobody has ever been better than DiMaggio,” Lewis reminded anybody who would listen. “Nobody. Ever.”

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