Sunday, March 06, 2011
Nobody On Nobody Out When #5 Stepped Up To The Plate
Joe DiMaggio had just gone 0 for 3.
Now it was the bottom of the 8th, 2 men out, nobody on, and DiMaggio would only have one more shot at keeping his 35 game hitting streak alive. The Yanks were ahead 6-0 but when Joe came to the plate the fans acted as if it were the bottom of the 9th in the 7th game of the World Series and the Yanks trailing by a run.
The pitcher, Bob Muncrief, had been signaled by his manager to walk DiMaggio. Luke Sewell who managed the Browns back then didn't want Joe to extend his streak and have the Browns go into the record books as a goat to DiMaggio's hero, so walking him meant the hitting streak died right then, right there.
But Muncrief wanted no part of it. DiMaggio was the greatest player he'd ever seen and Muncrief figured his job as a pitcher was to get people out and besides, walking Joe would have been bush league.
The count was 1-1 when DiMaggio tore a line drive over the shortstop's head. He went on to hit safely in 56 consecutive games. Less than 2 months later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and my Dad often told me that 2 things stood out head and shoulders above everything else his little corner of the world was dishing out in 1941.
The Japs being rats, and Muncrief stepping up when his number was called to do something remarkable. Fifteen years later at my first baseball game I was lucky to have things explained to me in black and white; so right or wrong, the hesitation factor never once reared its ugly head and produced a waffle when a charge was called for. And for the life of me can't figure out how the majority of today's kids do it.