On May 15, 1941, a historic hitting streak began that not only rewrote the history books, it locked the door to the records room and threw away the key.
Of course, we speak of Joe DiMaggio's incredible — and most would agree, unbreakable — 56-game hitting streak that has set the standard for excellence, endurance and consistency.
The streak will be celebrated on its 75th anniversary with a special edition of the popular series MLB Network Presents titled "56: The Streak." The one-hour, documentary style program will premiere tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
Thanks to the kind folks at MLB Network, I was able to preview the program this past week and really enjoyed the presentation.
Produced by MLB Network and narrated by actor Ed Burns, the program contains commentary from many of baseball's most recognizable analysts and historians, including MLB Network host Bob Costas, MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons and baseball journalist Jonah Keri. Their jobs are to provide the historical and statistical context of DiMaggio's remarkable feat.
We'll also hear from the players who have come closest to challenging DiMaggio's streak during its 75 year run. Pete Rose (44 games), Paul Molitor (39) and Jimmy Rollins (38) will provide perspective on the physical and mental challenges that players face while attempting to sustain such a prolonged streak.
Robin Ventura, who holds the NCAA hitting streak record at 58 games, shares the difficulty of maintaining his streak at the college level. Obviously, it's an entirely different game, but it gives added context to hitting in 56 straight games against the very best competition.
The program also takes a deeper look into some of the angles we might not consider when thinking back to DiMaggio's hitting streak. That includes the pressure official scorers were under to make a fair call. Given the recent controversy surrounding Andrew McCutchen and Pittsburgh's official scorer, it shows how fine and sensitive that line can be.
If you're into analytics, that's covered too. There's focus on what it would take for a player in today's landscape to equal or surpass DiMaggio's streak. Obviously, it's a more specialized game now. With more numbers readily available to limit hitter's strengths, the uphill climb seems to be getting steeper with each passing season.
Overall, it's a fascinating program that provides unique perspective and perhaps a few anecdotes you've never heard about one of baseball's greatest and most prolonged achievements.
We give it a full recommendation and hope that you, the baseball fan, will be able to check it out.
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