When it comes to individual achievements in baseball, there are only a few that spring to mind. Barry Bonds as the home run king, Cal Ripken Jr. as the iron man, Pete Rose as the all-time hits leader.
And Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak.
It's unbelieveable by any stretch of the imagination. Partially because it takes such a degree of skill and luck that this is a record that has now stood longer than any of the previously mentioned three, and partially because nobody has really come close since. How can you imagine it? If Joe Mauer picked up a hit tomorrow, he'd need to collect a hit in every single game through July 17th just to tie DiMaggio's record. And that's if he played every game.
Entering the 1941 season, DiMaggio had been in baseball for five seasons. Just 26 he'd already crushed 168 home runs and hit .343/.402/.623, had been an All-Star all five years and won an MVP award at the age of 24 in 1939.
So, it's not like he wasn't a good hitter.
From May 15, 1941, through July 16, DiMaggio tallied a hit in 56 consecutive games. In that span he collected 91 hits, including 16 doubles, four triples and 15 home runs, en route to a .408/.463/.717 line.
Since DiMaggio's incredible streak, there have been a number of impressive moments by lesser players than he. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 consecutive games in 1945. Paul Molitor made it 38 consecutive games, getting his streak to 38 games in 1987. Jimmy Rollins was more recent, when his 36-game streak was split between the end of the '06 season and the first two games of the '07 season.
But the closest the baseball world has come to DiMaggio since 1941 is the legendary Pete Rose himself. In 1978 Rose pushed his streak to 44 games, the third longest streak in baseball history afterWillie Keeler's pre-1900 performance.
DiMaggio's place in baseball's history and record books is safe for the time being. Will it ever be broken?