The summer of 1941 was the background for two young superstars in the American League who put on a dazzling display of talent that provided the greatest batting feats in the history of baseball in a single season. Certainly they have not been equaled during the past 77 years. Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak broke the record by 12 games and Ted Williams became the last hitter to hit over .400 since 1930.
When we were kids the argument as to who was the better hitter raged as common playground banter. One from San Diego, the other from San Francisco; one a lefty, the other a right-handed hitter; one was always buttoned up while the other never wore a tie; both served in WWII; both became national heroes and both are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.Our class will relive these extraordinary events using films and interviews from that era to recreate those times, the players and their teammates. We will begin with a look at the overall careers of the two men but move to the details of their specific accomplishments during this amazing season.
We will also recall their life stories which took dramatically different turns. As two of the most recognized athletes of their times they had very different interests. DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe and lived in the big city while Williams married several times and loved to fish in remote areas. Both had issues with the press and their deaths were surrounded by surreal events.
There will be some suggested readings and surprisingly good films of these men and their teammates in action. We will discuss the players, their teams, and their exploits. Come prepared to defend your position as to who had the better year and to remember the days when baseball really was America’s pastime!
MAYNARD GOLDMAN attended his first Red Sox games at Fenway in 1944 and 1945. He lived within walking distance of the Park for over 40 years and was an avid fan until 2000 when he turned his attention to other matters. His grandsons now listen to his stories about “the old days” with benign amusement.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth requires an annual membership to participate in courses. Membership fees are $70 (expiring June 30, 2018) or $105 (expiring June 30, 2019).