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This Day in Yankees History: “The Streak” topples .400

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We celebrate Joe DiMaggio beating Ted Williams in the ‘41 AL MVP race, a former Yankee skipper being awarded elsewhere, and three forgotten Yankees for their major league ineptitude.

Joe DiMaggio Holding a Trophy

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. As the offseason has begun much sooner than anyone has ever hoped for, the Pinstripe Alley team has decided to continue the revived program in its new format. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (November 11)

79 Years Ago

In one of the all-time greatest award robberies in sports, the Yankee Clipper wins his second of three career American League Most Valuable Player awards, eclipsing Ted Williams by a solid, 37-point margin. Even in the year of his 56-game hit streak, DiMaggio’s offensive production fell so far short of Williams’, that even his slight defensive edge couldn’t make up that ground, despite the voting tally suggesting otherwise. Williams dominated DiMaggio in every offensive category, finishing with a 1.287 OPS that dwarfed DiMaggio’s 1.083. It’s unfortunate that DiMaggio’s excellent season was recognized over Williams’, considering Ted’s was one of the greatest single seasons of all time. In the final occasion any Major Leaguer hit over .400, Williams also clubbed 37 homers, 120 RBI, posted a .553 on-base, and slugged .735. In retrospect, it’s almost unfathomable that DiMaggio was regarded as the more valuable player with a .357/.440/.643 triple-slash, leading to 12 more runs and one more win above average.

6 Years Ago

Former Yankee skipper, Buck Showalter, picks up his third American League Manager of the Year award in as many decades. After winning the award in ’94 with the Yanks, and ’04 with the Rangers, he won the ’14 award for his job at the helm of the Orioles, leading the club to its first division title since 1997. In Derek Jeter’s final season, the expensive and underperforming Yankees disappointed, finishing 12 games behind Showalter’s O’s in the AL East, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Though Baltimore swept Detroit in the Division Series, Kansas City returned the favor in the Championship Series, winning four straight before falling to the Giants in the World Series.

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Ownie Carroll, Harry Billiard, and Danny Rios each have birthdays today. Carroll’s career as a Yankee lasted just a portion of the 1930 season for the Yanks, also appearing that year as a Tiger and a Red. In his ten games in pinstripes, he lost his only decision, posting a 6.61 ERA. However, of the three men celebrating birthdays today, he was likely the most effectual Yankee.

Billiard closed just six games as a Yankee in 1908, before spending the ’14 and ’15 seasons in the Federal League of Base Ball Clubs. From its inception in ‘13, the Federal League was considered to be the “third major league,” until it folded after the ’15 season. Rios played in just two games for the 1997 Yankees, allowing five earned on three homers in two and one-third innings in addition to plating three earned runners. Following a minuscule stint with the Royals the following season, he spent time in the minors before bouncing around myriad leagues. He played in American Indy ball before heading to Mexico and Korea. His career came to an end in Japan, when he tested positive for steroids, never playing professional baseball again.

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We thank Baseball-Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.