ORLANDO _ The magic number turned 60 on Tuesday. On July 17, 1941, Joe DiMaggio went 0-for-3. His consecutive-game hitting streak stopped at _ all together now _ 56.
Few sporting numbers have assumed lives of their own. There is .401 (batting average, Ted Williams), $252 million (wages, Alex Rodriguez) and 20,000 (conquests, Wilt Chamberlain).
There was 61, until Mark McGwire came along. But 56 has become an almost mystical figure. It means different things to different people. But no number means so much to so many.
Thank goodness it happened then because it could never happen now. For one thing, DiMaggio died two years ago.