1941 – Joe DiMaggio’s record hitting streak finally ends

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was one of the all time greats of baseball, and no greater proof exists than his hitting streak record. From May 15 to July 16, 1941, he hit an unbroken streak of 56 games, a record that still stands. (The next highest hitting streak is 44 games in a single season, acheived by both Pete Rose and Willie Keeler – Keller also hit in the last game of his prior season too, giving him a 45 game streak overall.) Even after the end of the streak, DiMaggio hit another 17 game streak (and his record of hitting in 73 out of 74 games also remains unbroken).

DiMaggio’s team was the New York Yankees – who won the pennant in ten of the thirteen years that DiMaggio played for them. DiMaggio’s 1941 season was his last for some years – in 1942, he enlisted in the US Army, although he saw no combat, being assigned safely to a behind-the-lines role. His parents spent the war interned as supposed ‘enemy aliens’. DiMaggio would return to pro baseball in 1946, and played until 1951.

Referenced in:

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio — Les Brown & His Orchestra

1959 – Billie Holiday dies

Born Eleanora Harris, Billie Holiday was one of the greatest singers of the Twentieth Century. She sang across a range of genres, including jazz, folk and pop, but always in a voice and a style that was distinctively her own. It is no exaggeration to say that she single-handedly changed the way that pop music was sung – no female vocalist who followed her is entirely free of her shadow, and not a few male vocalists also owe a debt – Frank Sinatra, for example, said that she was his single largest influence.

Holiday’s death, at the age of 44, came a few months after she was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, caused by her heavy drinking. She died after spending a month and a half in hospital – a period during which she was arrested by the New York Police Department for drug possession and other crimes. Her health had prevented her from being arraigned, and the charges were still pending when she died, placing her beyond the reach of any earthly jurisdiction.

Referenced in:

Woke Up This Morning — Alabama 3

1951 – The Bantu Authorities Act comes into force in South Africa

The Bantu Authorities Act was one of the major foundations of apartheid in South Africa. It permitted the forced removal of black Africans to government-designated “homelands” (or bantustans). There were a total of twenty such areas, located across South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia) – usually in the less desirable parts of the nation.

The South African government liked to pretend that these were independent states – this made it easy to justify spending very little on them, with the result that the black populations living in them lived in squalor and poverty. Those who had work had to travel to and from South Africa proper each day, for work that was poorly paid, and often unsafe and degrading.

The bantustans were abolished in 1994, when the era of apartheid finally ended.

Referenced in:

Sun City — Artists United Against Apartheid

1967 – John Coltrane dies

John Coltrane, born on September 23, 1926, is a legend of twentieth century jazz. He worked alongside other greats such as Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis. He pioneered Free Jazz, and made more than fifty recordings in the twelve years of his career.

Coltrane died from either liver cancer or hepatitis, depending on who you believe, but either way, his heroin use was almost certainly a contributing factor.

Referenced in:
L.A. Money Train — Rollins Band
Woke Up This Morning — Alabama 3