Masterpiece: The Double No-Hitter
almost a baseball cliché.
A no-hitter is
tossed. And the next time that pitcher takes the mound, there is all the
talk and speculation about the possibility of a second straight no-no
always what Johnny Vander Meer did 62 years ago today comes back into the
June 11, 1938, the Cincinnati hurler no-hit the Boston Bees, 3-0. Four
nights later, he was tabbed to start against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the
first night game ever in the New York City metropolitan area. To that
point in time, only two pitchers had ever recorded two career no-hitters.
No one had ever posted two no-hitters in a season. No one had probably
even contemplated back-to-back no-hitters.
than 40,000 jammed into Ebbets Field to see the first night game in that
tiny ball park's history and also bear witness to Vander Meer questing
after his second straight no-hitter. Utilizing a one-two-three-four
pitching rhythm that saw him cock his right leg in the air before he
delivered the ball to the plate, “Vandy” featured a fast ball that was
always moving and a curve ball that broke ever so sharply.
after inning, the Dodgers went down hitless. In the seventh inning, Vander
Meer walked two batters. But the fans of "Dem Bums" cheered the
Cincinnati pitcher on, sensing they were witnessing baseball history.
inning began with Cincinnati holding a 6-0 lead. Buddy Hasset was retired
on a grounder. Then suddenly, Vander Meer lost control of the situation.
He loaded the bases on walks. Reds manager Bill McKechnie came out to the
mound to talk to his beleaguered pitcher.
it easy, Johnny," he said, "but get the no-hitter." Vander
Meer got Ernie Koy to hit a grounder to infielder Lou Riggs, who
conservatively elected to go to the plate for the force-out for the second
out. The bases were still loaded, though. Leo "Lippy" Durocher,
the Dodger player-manager and a veteran of many wars, stepped into the
the “Lip” stood between Vander Meer and the double no-hitter. Durocher
took a lunging swing and smashed the ball down the right-field line. But
it went foul into the upper deck. Bedlam and tension intermingled at
Ebbets Field as Vander Meer's left arm came around and delivered the pitch
to Durocher, who swung and popped up the ball into short center field.
Harry Craft clutched the ball. With, Vander Meer made baseball history.
leaped out onto the playing field, but Vander Meer's Cincinnati teammates
had formed a protective shield around the exhausted hurler as he scurried
into the relative calm of the dugout. His mother and father, who had come
to see their son pitch with about 500 others from their hometown, were not
as lucky. Swarms of well wishers and autograph-hunters milled about
Vandy's parents. It took about half an hour before they could be
extricated from the mob of admirers.
event remains in memory as the miracle of 1938, consecutive no-hitters
spun by John Samuel Vander Meer, the man they called the "Dutch
Master." President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent congratulations.
Newspapers and magazines featured every detail of the event for months.
For Vander Meer, the double no-hitters were especially sweet coming
against Boston and Brooklyn - teams he tried out for and been rejected by.
Meer performed for 13 big-league seasons, winning 119 games and losing
121. He perhaps would be remembered as a southpaw pitcher who never
totally fulfilled his promise if it had not been for the epic moments of
June 11 and June 15, 1938.
# # #
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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