Joe DiMaggio’s Streak, Game 7: 2-for-5 vs. Detroit, DiMaggio vs. Stadium

Joe DiMaggio, Yankee Stadium 1941

Joe DiMaggio, Yankee Stadium 1941

Reliving Joe DiMaggio’s Streak: Game 7, May 21, 1941

In a 5-4 victory over the visiting Detroit Tigers, Joe DiMaggio could have had a huge day—a huge in day in almost any ballpark, except Yankee Stadium.

Two singles in five trips were enough to drive in the winning run and raise the Yankee Clipper’s average to .325. The Streak was now at a modest seven games.

But the unforgiving dimensions of Yankee Stadium cost Joe on this day—as it would on many other afternoons throughout his career.

Hitters needed a bus transfer to reach the center field fence, some 461 feet away. Then there was the left-center power alley, 457 feet from home plate. With straightaway left measured at 415 feet, a right-handed hitter—like DiMaggio—needed to launch a missile to hit a homer.

Pat Mullin, a journeyman center fielder for the Tigers, made two catches of deep DiMaggio drives—one nestled up against the fence.

Few players in baseball history were hurt as much by his home park configuration as was DiMaggio. (If you tracked all of his “outs” to center, left and left-center field and then placed these hit balls in the current Yankee Stadium. The result: 750-plus home runs.)

He hit .315 with 148 home runs in Yankee Stadium. On the road, his average was .333 with 213 homers. No major league player with 300 or more career home runs hit as high a percentage on the road.

Two hundred miles away, in Boston, Ted Williams was almost as challenged by Fenway Park.

Williams, a left-handed hitter, dealt with a power alley in right center that ranged from 380 to 420 feet. He also smacked more circuit clouts on the road than at home—273 on the road, 248 at home. Williams’ average at home, however, was a torrid .361 (.328 away from Fenway).

Had DiMaggio played at Fenway, the left-center field fence would have been an inviting 379 feet from the plate. Williams, at Yankee Stadium, would have had that short right-field porch at which Babe Ruth aimed all those years.

The discussion reverberated among fans and in newspapers about how much more effective the two sluggers might have been had they played in each others’ park—so much so that in 1947, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Yankees general manager Larry MacPhail had agreed to trade DiMaggio for Williams.

The deal, to the relief of most Yankees fans, fell through. The reason? MacPhail refused to “throw in” a rookie catcher—Yogi Berra.

Read More About The Streak: Game 8

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