An Illustrated Life
by Dick Johnson and Glenn Stout
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The Yankees went to Cleveland for a three-game series leading the Indians by five games. New York had Cleveland on the ropes. Potentially, the 1941 American League pennant hung in the balance. Cleveland could ill afford to lose the series, and if they swept, they were back in the race.
The series was the most important played in Cleveland in years. The chance to stop the Yankees and DiMaggio had the entire city fired up. The Indians hadn't won a pennant since 1920. Before the series, the Indians upped their insurance policy on star pitcher Bob Feller, 18-4 so far in 1941, to $200,000.
The first game was played in Cleveland's League Park, where the Indians still played weekday home games. Cleveland pitcher Al Milnar had the task of trying to stop DiMaggio and the Yankees.
The drama concerning DiMaggio ended early. On the first day of the third month of his streak, DiMaggio came to bat in the first after two outs and a walk to Tommy Henrich. He singled sharply to center, sending Henrich to third and running the streak to 56 games. Joe Gordon, up next, smashed the ball to the Indians' Ken Keltner at third. Keltner ranged far behind third, backhanded the ball, and threw wide to first. Gordon slid around first baseman Hal Trosky's tag as Henrich scored easily.
DiMaggio went to second. Yankee catcher Buddy Rosar hit a ground ball to the right side that second baseman Ray Mack just managed to smother. Mack tried for the out at first, but Rosar beat the throw. DiMaggio just kept running, and a surprised Trosky threw home, but Joe slid around the tag to put New York up 2-0.
Cleveland scored single runs in the first and second off Yankee pitcher Atley Donald to tie the score. DiMaggio got another hit in the third on a single to center, then walked in the midst of New York's four-run rally in the fifth to put the game out of reach. In the ninth, DiMaggio doubled. He scored three runs in New York's 10-4 win, helping the Yankees increase their lead over Cleveland to six games.
From DiMaggio: An Illustrated Life by Dick Johnson and Glenn Stout.
text Copyright © 1995 by Glenn Stout. Reprinted with permission.