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Michael Bamberger
July 01, 2002
The Spirit Of 56 Joe DiMaggio's record lives on as speedy Luis Castillo runs out of scratch hits
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July 01, 2002

Baseball

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SI's All- Star Ballot

With the midsummer classic on tap for July 9, here are the American League leaders in fan voting and our corresponding choices (stats through Sunday).

POSITION

VOTE LEADER (AS OF JUNE 18)

SI CHOICE

First base

Jason Giambi, Yankees (.309, 19 HR, 59 RBIs)

Paul Konerko, White Sox (.325, 16, 62)

Giambi is having a terrific year, but Konerko gets the nod because he's done more with less

Second base

Alfonso Soriano, Yankees (.323, 17, 44)

Soriano

With his power, speed and athleticism, Soriano is the league's most exciting player east of Ichiro

Third base

Shea Hillenbrand, Red Sox (.315, 13, 49)

Hillenbrand

Much improved second-year man deserves spot over Yankees' Robin Ventura and budding A's star Eric Chavez

Shortstop

Alex Rodriguez, Rangers (294, 21, 60)

Rodriguez

Toughest call on ballot, but as league leader in homers and second in RBIs, A-Rod edges Nomar Garciaparra

Catcher

Jorge Posada, Yankees (262, 10, 43)

A.J. Pierzynski, Twins (.325, 4, 27)

Pierzynski's average is tops among AL catchers, plus he's nailed more runners attempting to steal than Posada

Outfield

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (.365, 1, 27)

Suzuki

Manny Ramirez, Red Sox (.372, 9, 35)

Johnny Damon, Red Sox (.322, 5, 34)

Torii Hunter, Twins (.298, 17, 53)

Hunter

Leading league with 59 runs, Damon deserves the spot over Ramirez, who was injured

The Spirit Of 56
Joe DiMaggio's record lives on as speedy Luis Castillo runs out of scratch hits

Old baseball records have fallen in recent years, but the king of them all—Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, set in 1941—survives. Last Saturday talk of Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo's surpassing DiMaggio filled the home clubhouse at Pro Player Stadium. The Marlins were optimistic because the 26-year-old Dominican, a speedy, slap hitter, always seems to find a way to get on base. A switch-hitter who covers the 90 feet from home to first in 3-7 seconds when batting lefthanded, Castillo already had 28 infield singles this year, including 18 since his hitting streak started on May 8.

His first hit last Friday night against the Tigers, which extended his streak to 35 games, came on an infield single in the bottom of the third. After reaching third base two batters later, Castillo said in Spanish to Marlins coach Ozzie Guillen, "My God, I've got to do this s—- again tomorrow night."

Or at least he'd try. On Saturday night Castillo was hitless in his first three at bats. Then he came up in the eighth with his team trailing Detroit 4-1. Castillo made the sign of the cross twice, stepped in left-handed and grounded out to short. The streak, it seemed, was over. Most of the 14,713 fans stood and applauded his accomplishment. Castillo returned to the dugout and sat on the floor for a moment, his head between his knees. Then he popped up for a curtain call, raising a fist in the muggy South Florida air.

But in the bottom of the ninth four of the Marlins' first five batters reached base, and soon the game was tied at four with a runner, Andy Fox, on third. Coming to the plate with one out was pinch hitter Tim Raines, and Castillo was on deck.

"Do you want me to bunt?" Raines asked Marlins manager Jeff Torborg.

"No," Torborg said.

"But what about...."

"I don't care," Torborg said, loud enough to be heard in the stands. "Win the game."

Raines hit a fly ball to shallow center, but it was deep enough to score Fox with the winning run. It was a thrilling victory for Florida, which won its fifth straight and moved within 5� games of the front-running Braves in the National League East. As his teammates celebrated at home plate, Castillo stood in the on-deck circle, just as the Brewers' Paul Molitor did when his 39-game hitting streak ended in 1987.

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