Johnny Vander Meer

Vander Meer is the only pitcher in major league history to have thrown back-to-back no-hitters. The Cincinnati hurler no-hit the Boston Bees 3-0 on June 11, 1938 and followed by no-hitting the Dodgers 6-0 on June 15. The latter contest was the first night game ever played at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. In his next start, Vander Meer did not allow a hit until Boston’s Deb Garms singled in the fourth inning, ending Vander Meer’s string of hitless innings at a National League record 21.

Vander Meer recalled the last out of the second no-hitter: “The Dodgers had the bases loaded with two outs. The batter was Leo Durocher, who had a count of one ball and two strikes. On the next pitch I hit the outside of the plate with a fastball for a strike and umpire Bill Stewart called it a ball. On the next pitch Durocher popped out to centerfield for the final out…When the game ended Stewart was the first to congratulate me. Stewart said, `If Leo got a hit, I was to blame as I missed the pitch and the batter should have been struck out on the previous pitch.’ “

Vander Meer was the TSN Minor League Player of the Year in 1936, when he went 19-6 at Durham and set a Piedmont League record with 295 strikeouts. He copped TSN Major League Player of the Year honors in 1938 on the strength of his extraordinary pitching feat. He threw hard and had a good sinker, and he led the NL in strikeouts three consecutive years (1941-43). Yet he often struggled with his control, topping NL pitchers in bases on balls in 1943 and 1948. He won in double figures six times, recording a career-high 18 victories in 1942. In 1943 he tied Carl Hubbell‘s record by fanning six batters in an All-Star Game, working 2-2/3 innings. Naval duty in 1944-45 and arm trouble shortened Vander Meer’s career.