The New York Yankees have seen a number of amazing feats and accomplishments on the field over the years, but perhaps none were more mind-boggling than Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941.
The “Yankee Clipper” was born on Nov. 25, 1914, and there’s no better time to take a closer look at his astonishing feat alongside some of the other incredible streaks and records in baseball history.
Cy Young’s 511 wins and 749 complete games – 1890-1911
Pitching today looks quite a bit different than it did back at the turn of the 20th century, when hurlers like Cy Young regularly threw complete games by the dozen in a single season. Velocity and medical technology has made the modern starting pitcher more of a specialist than a workhorse, which has helped cement Cy Young’s incredible 511 career victories and 749 complete games as another one of baseball’s unimaginable records.
Connie Mack’s 3,731 wins and 7,755 games managed – 1894-1950
One of the most famous early figures in baseball history, “The Grand Old Man of Baseball” Connie Mack was one of the most accomplished as well. After three seasons serving as a player/manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1894-1896, Mack then spent a half-century leading the Philadelphia Athletics as both a part-owner and manager, earning a grand total of 3,731 managerial victories in his career (Baseball has since made it illegal for owners to manage their teams themselves). Mack presided over nine pennant-winners and five championship teams, and remains the game’s winningest and longest-serving manager of all time with nearly 1,000 more career wins than his next closest competitor, John McGraw (2,763).
Johnny Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters - 1938
As any baseball fan knows, throwing a no-hitter is one of the toughest things any pitcher can do. Plenty have carried no-no’s into the sixth, seventh or even eighth innings, but even for Hall of Fame-caliber pitchers it’s an extremely rare achievement. But in 1938, former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer tossed not one but two no-hitters in the same week, doing so in back-to-back starts on June 11 and June 15. It’s pretty safe to assume no pitcher will ever break Vander Meer’s record with three straight no-no’s.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit-streak - 1941
As mentioned, Joltin’ Joe’s eye-popping 56-game stretch from May 15 to July 16 during the 1941 season to this day remains one of the most unbelievable feats for any athlete in American history. What’s even more amazing is that after the streak ended, DiMaggio then began a 17-game hit streak to make it 72 out of 73 straight games notching at least one base hit. DiMaggio’s 56-game streak was called “the coolest, most romantic record in sports" by Jayson Stark back in 2011.
Rickey Henderson’s 1,406 career stolen bases – 1979-2003
Stolen base artists have largely fallen by the wayside in recent years, but for a quarter-century, former Yankee Rickey Henderson (a.k.a. the “Man of Steal”) was the most fearsome and prolific base thief fans had ever seen. Henderson led his league in steals 12 different times, even leading the Majors with 66 swipes in 1998 at the age of 39. Rickey also notched three seasons with 100+ stolen bases on his path to the Hall of Fame, and it’s tough to imagine another player coming anywhere close to 1,406 career steals anytime soon.
Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive games played – 1982-1998
Though Cal Ripken Jr. and Cy Young played in completely different eras from one another, the two make this list for achievements that would never be a remote possibility in today’s day and age. Big leaguers in their teens and early-20s routinely sit out games to keep themselves in peak physical shape and to protect their longevity, but for the Hall of Famer Ripken Jr., durability was everything. Ripken Jr. defied the odds in 1998 when he broke Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 straight games, which was previously thought of as unbreakable. To put it into perspective, a player could miss zero games for 16 straight seasons and still be 40 games short of Ripken Jr.’s unbelievable mark.
Mariano Rivera’s 652 career saves – 1995-2013
While it may have seemed completely normal for Yankees fans to see the same closer dominate hitters for nearly two decades, such an occurrence is actually quite rare across the rest of baseball history. “The Sandman” Mariano Rivera paved his way to the Hall of Fame with 652 career saves, the most ever, and no active player is anywhere near shouting distance of Mo’s all-time mark.
Fernando Tatis Sr.’s two grand slams in one inning - 1999
Some may call it a fluke, but it’s hard to envision the stars aligning perfectly for another player to even match, much less break, what Fernando Tatis did with the Cardinals back in 1999 when he collected two grand slams in the same inning. Only 12 players in history have hit two in the same game, let alone the same inning, and it’d be all but impossible to imagine any player getting three chances at bat with the bases loaded in the same frame. Consider this one unbreakable.