Johnny Vander Meer Hurls Two Consecutive No-Hitters

Number Seven in Drew Lutts' "10 Greatest Games in Baseball History" series

Johnny Vander Meer
(Original Caption) With a wild swing, Pete Coscarart of the Brooklyn Dodgers, strikes out in the fifth inning as Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Vander Meer hurled his second consecutive no-hit no-run game within a week to trounce the Dodgers 6-0. Game played beneath the floods was the first big-league night game in New York.

Welcome Back! We’re chugging right along here on the “Top 10 Games of All Time” series. After looking at Number Eight from the ALCS, we move to Number Seven, which is in the regular season. This isn’t a singular game (cheating? no. Twofer? yes!), but instead a pair of consecutive games. This pair is from 1938 and Johnny Vander Meer, and the feat accomplished has never been replicated in baseball history. Let’s get into it.

7. Johnny Vander Meer Hurls Two Consecutive No-Hitters

In 1938, the Cincinnati Reds had a wild left-handed rookie by the name of Johnny Vander Meer. Vander Meer will never be remembered for his underwhelming 119-121 career record. But he will be remembered for his incredible feat accomplished in his rookie campaign. He hurled two consecutive no-hitters within the span of four days.

Game One: Cincinnati Reds 3, Boston Bees 0

The first game happened on June 11th, 1938. Vander Meer took the mound in what wasn’t a crazy performance but a performance that etched his name in history. As the game wore on, it was a pitchers duel. Neither team scored through four innings, but Ival Goodman drove in Wally Berger on a sacrifice fly to put Cincy up one. It turned out that was all the Reds needed, but they added two more runs in the sixth on an Ernie Lombardi homer. Vander Meer did the rest despite walking three batters and only striking out four.

Johnny Vander Meer was a rookie left-hander who got wild at times, as supported by his inflated walk rates. On this day though, he limited his walks and battled through all nine innings in order to lock up his first career no-hitter. He did so without so much as a whimper from the Boston Bees (now the Atlanta Braves) lineup.

Game Two: Cincinnati Reds 6, Brooklyn Dodgers 0

The second game in these consecutive no-hitters wasn’t as easy as the first. The Brooklyn Dodgers were a good baseball team, but so were the Reds. Vander Meer took the mound again, four days out from his first career no hitter. This time he had the privilege of throwing in the first night game at Ebbets Field, and boy did he deliver.

Johnny Vander Meer once again stepped up and hurled another no-hitter. This no-no, however, was a messy one that included multiple defensive gems and close shaves with runners on. The Reds struck for four runs in the third inning, and that is, once again, all they needed, but they added one more in the seventh and another in the eighth.

Vander Meer was very shaky but accomplished a feat that hasn’t been touched since. He walked eight batters and struck out seven. The walks almost got him into big trouble in the ninth as he walked the bases loaded. However, he etched another notch in history though, getting Dodger shortstop Leo Durocher to pop out to end the game.

Johnny Vander Meer had a 13-year career and was incredibly mediocre throughout. With the exception of that two game stretch in June of ’38, he was a .500 pitcher who struggled with his control. On those two days in 1938 though, you never would’ve known the difference between a mediocre pitcher and an all-time great. As mentioned before, the record has never been touched, nor will likely ever be touched for a long, long time.

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