Baseball History: Johnny Vander Meer

Johnny Vander Meer

Johnny Vander Meer

As with many no-hitters, the pitcher struggled to get through the ninth inning.

The date was June 15, 1938.

The scene was the first night game for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field.

The pitcher was Johnny Vander Meer.

Just four days earlier, the 23-year old left-hander had no-hit the Boston Braves at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

In just his second major league season, Vander Meer had a no-hitter heading into the ninth with a 6-0 advantage.

After getting an out to begin the frame, Vander Meer walked the next three Dodgers to load the bases. He was able to retire the next two hitters with Dodgers shortstop Leo Durocher making the final out.

Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters is an accomplishment that has never been equaled. In fact, only five pitchers have ever held opponents hitless twice in a year.

Allie Reynolds of the New York Yankees (1951), Virgil Trucks of the Detroit Tigers (1952), Nolan Ryan of the California Angels (1973) and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies (2010) are the others to hurl a pair of no-hitters in a single season.

Vander Meer pitched for the Reds from 1937 to 1949. He was sold to the Chicago Cubs in 1950 and finished his career with one game for the Cleveland Indians in 1951.

In 1938, he ended the season at 15-10, while earning the victory in the National League’s 4-1 win during the all-star game in Cincinnati. Over the next two years, Vander Meer was a part of two pennant winners and the 1940 world champions.

A three-time all-star, he was 119-121 in the big leagues and his best year was in 1942 when he was 18-12.

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