10. Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio, 1941, American League
“Who started baseball’s famous streak that’s got us all aglow?” sang Betty Bonney in the number that first put Les Brown and his Band of Renown on the charts. The fame of DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak won him the MVP for the year in which he hit .357 with 30 homers, 125 RBIs and 122 runs scored. It was a great season, but Ted Williams had a better one, batting .406, hitting 37 home runs, scoring 135 runs, driving in 122, dwarfing DiMaggio in on-base percentage (.553 to .440) and slugging average (.735 to .643) while making far fewer outs (285 to 356). Voters might have been swayed by the Yankees winning the pennant by seventeen games over Boston, or by DiMaggio’s greater defensive value, in deciding that his performance was more “valuable.” More likely they were dazzled by two months of attention and celebrity, and chose the famous performance over the historic one.