Sunday marks the anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s iconic hitting streak coming to an end. On July 17 in 1941, Cleveland’s Ken Keltner stopped Joe D’s only real chance at a hit and it was finally over. In a time when the spotlight is unquestionably bright, challenging DiMaggio’s record today seems daunting to say the least. That argument seems to hold considerable weight given that no player’s streak has reached even 40 games in nearly 40 years. While the record hasn’t been surpassed, a few have come close.
Here’s a look back at the players who’ve had streaks of 40 games or more and the baseball cards from those seasons.
DiMaggio is the king here and many fans question if anyone will ever be able to break his record that has stood for 75 years now. His impressive streak began on May 15, 1941 and lasted until July 17 of that season. 1941 was another stellar season for Joltin’ Joe, who won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player Award and his fifth straight World Series title. On the year, the streak helped propel DiMaggio to a .357 batting average – second highest of his Hall of Fame career.
DiMaggio’s primary collectible from that season was his popular and attractive 1941 Play Ball card. Mid-grade copies start at over $1,000, still not bad considering his status in the game. He’s also in the 1941 Double Play issue, joined by Charlie “King Kong” Keller.
Keeler’s streak was the one that DiMaggio had to beat – and it stood for nearly 45 years. Then with the Baltimore Orioles, Wee Willie’s streak began with the last game of 1896 and he continued “hitting ’em where they ain’t” into the following season.
Not many collectibles were around for those seasons, but he does appear in a few early 1900s sets and later in his career, you can find a pair in the T206 set (1909-11), which included a portrait and a pose with a bat. They’re relatively plentiful at $200 and up, depending on condition.
The Hit King was the most recent major threat to DiMaggio’s record. Rose lasted 44 games before he was stopped and while others have had significant streaks (i.e. Jimmy Rollins reaching 38 games in 2006), no one has successfully made it to 40 since Rose.
Then a member of the Cincinnati Reds, his main 1978 card is his Topps issue. It’s a double print and ungraded copies of that card in near mint condition can generally be had for under $5.
Dahlen had the honor of the first 40+ game hit streak in recorded history. In 1894 with his first team, the Chicago Colts, Dahlen managed 42 consecutive games with a hit.
Like Keeler, Dahlen doesn’t have any known cards from that season. However, his 1911 T-205 issue while he was a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers remains a key card for collectors. The card is not only beautiful, it was short printed and is almost always in demand but with persistence you can sometimes find a few copies generally available on eBay.
Sisler’s streak ended only four short of that attained by Keeler when he reached 41 games in 1922 with the St. Louis Browns. While his streak was incredibly impressive, Sisler remains more known for previously holding the single-season hits record of 257 until Ichiro Suzuki broke it in 2004. He eventually made his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 after a stellar career.
Sisler had some cards in American Caramel sets at the time and he was also in the W575 set. You can usually find them for $200-$500 in the lower to middle grades.
The Tigers star nearly knocked Keeler from the record books when he hit safely in 40 consecutive games in 1911. Cobb also flirted with the record again a few seasons later, hitting in 35 straight contests. He remains one of baseball’s greatest players of all-time and his cards are among those most collected from players in the pre-war era.
One of Cobb’s key 1911 collectibles is his T3 Turkey Red Cabinet card. A low-grade copy recently sold for more than $1,300.
You can also find Cobb cards from that streak season in a variety of other issues.