The First of Two: Vander Meer's Feat Celebrates 75 Years

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We still get excited when one occurs, but when it comes to no-hitters these days, the fanfare isn’t as big as it once was. Well, unless it’s a pitcher from your favorite team that completes the feat. Last season, baseball fans witnessed seven no-hitters including one thrown by Cincy’s Homer Bailey.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the onset for an incredible accomplishment that will never be touched: back-to-back no-hitters. For this to be broken, you’re looking at hurling three no-hitters in a row. With the way pitchers are seemingly coddled these days, it will not happen. Not even if you’re Justin Verlander, who owns two no-nos. You can book it.

June 11, 1938 and those in attendance at Crosley Field observed Johnny Vander Meer take the mound. It was his first full season as a member of the Reds after spent some time with them in 1937. The opponent was the Boston Bees, now known as the Atlanta Braves. (In case you’re wondering, the Bees uniforms were not yellow and black, but they did sport a yellow tint.)

The opposing pitcher was former Red Danny MacFayden. Okay, so MacFayden was a Red for not even a full season, but he had himself a decent outing going the distance (8 innings) and allowed only 6 hits and 3 runs. He faced 32 batters.

Here’s Vander Meer’s line from that June 11 game.

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF GSc
Johnny Vander Meer, W (6-2) 9 0 0 0 3 4 0 2.47 28 88
Team Totals 9 0 0 0 3 4 0 0.00 28 88
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/11/2013.

The star of this game was obviously Vander Meer. He faced 28 batters, only one over the minimum. He walked three and struck out four. Might think a no-hitter involves striking out more than four, but for this game, Reds first baseman Frank McCormick led the team in putouts (14), not catcher Ernie Lombardi (5).

Um, ground ball pitcher?

And Vander Meer even was 1-for-3 at the plate.

Imagine a game taking only an hour and 48 minutes to play…

According to Baseball Almanac, the reason Vander Meer faced only one over the minimum wasn’t solely because of double plays. One runner was thrown out trying to return to first after a deep foul out. The other was picked off first by Vander Meer.

In 1938 there were three no-nos thrown. We know of the two by Vander Meer. In the previous season of 1937, baseball saw only one. The following year of 1939, none.

In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of Vander Meer’s remarkable accomplishment, JohnnyVanderMeer.com has launched. If you have not been there, it is a must to go see. Rob has much for you to peruse there. A highly recommended visit!

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