Johnny Vander Meer was born on Monday, November 2, 1914, in Prospect Park, New Jersey. Vander Meer was 22 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 22, 1937, with the Cincinnati Reds. His biographical data, year-by-year hitting stats, fielding stats, pitching stats (where applicable), career totals, uniform numbers, salary data and miscellaneous items-of-interest are presented by Baseball Almanac on this comprehensive Johnny Vander Meer baseball stats page.
"Kids are always chasing rainbows, but baseball is a world where you can catch them." - Johnny Vander Meer in Diamonds are Forever (Dennis L. Mangrum, Cedar Fort Publishing, 09/01/2007, Page 208)
Johnny Vander Meer Autograph on a 1949 Play Ball Reprint (#56)
Johnny Vander Meer
Johnny Vander Meer Pitching Stats
Johnny Vander Meer
Johnny Vander Meer Hitting Stats
Johnny Vander Meer
Johnny Vander Meer Fielding Stats
Johnny Vander Meer
Johnny Vander Meer Miscellaneous Stats
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Johnny Vander Meer Miscellaneous Items of Interest
Did you know that Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher in Major League history to toss no-hitters in two consecutive games ? On June 11, 1938 , he no-hit the Boston Bees at Crosley Field. Four nights later, on June 15, 1938 , in the first night game played at Ebbets Field, he no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers. This pitching feat (a truly unbreakable record in our opinion) was one we loved so much, a Consecutive No Hitters by Johnny Vander Meer page was created when we started Baseball Almanac in 1999!
The Dutch Master, nearly two decades after it happened, once said, "At least once a day I hear about my no-hitters. It's just something that's caught the public's imagination." Let's take a much closer look at what caught the public's imagination in 1938:
Johnny Vander Meer, hampered by wildness early in his career, came along fast in 1938. He had a 5-2 record for the Cincinnati Reds when he faced the Boston Bees on Saturday, June 11 , at Crosley Field before 10,311 fans, including 4497 Knothole Day guests.
The Reds, pennant-winners the next year, were in third place, while the Bees, the last team to knock Vandy out of the box, were fifth. His rival for this game was the crafty veteran Danny MacFayden .
Not a Bee reached base until the fourth inning. Vandy had no trouble in the first, fanning Vince DiMaggio for the third out. In the second, the Bees were retired on three line drives. Tony Cuccinello lined to second, Bobby Reis hit one straight to center field Harry Craft , and then Craft made a spine tingling, one-handed catch of Gil English's drive as he sped up the embankment in deep center.
A pop-up, strikeout and infield grounder took care of the Bees in the third, but Gene Moore led off the fourth with a walk. Moore started for second on the hit-and-run, but Johnny Cooney popped a deep foul which catcher Ernie Lombardi grabbed. Moore , trying to make a quick change of direction, twisted his left knee, fell to the ground in pain and was easily doubled off first. Moore had to be carried from the field. The inning ended when DiMaggio smashed one which third baseman Lew Riggs knocked down, picked up and threw to first, just nipping the runner, although Vince always insisted he beat the throw.
Cuccinello opened the fifth with a walk but, after Reis flied out, was picked off first by Lombardi's snap throw to Frank McCormick . English drew Vandy's third walk, but Johnny Riddle grounded to the mound.
Vandy breezed through the next three innings and, when he came out for the nine, had a 3-0 lead. Primarily a fast ball pitcher, Johnny also had good control of his curve this day. He was really bearing down now, although he must have had a funny feeling when he saw both Gene Schott and Joe Cascarella warming up in the Reds' bullpen.
Boston manager Casey Stengel sent up three pinch-hitters in the ninth. Bob Kahle grounded to first and McCormick threw to Vandy covering first for the out. Harl Maggert went down swinging for Vandy's fourth strikeout. He had fanned DiMaggio in the first Rabbit Warstler in the third, and Cuccinello had taken a third strike in the seventh.
Ray Mueller was the Bees' last hope, and the catcher hit an easy hopper to third. When Lew Riggs ' throw settled in McCormick's glove, the crowd surged onto the field. Vandy's mates carried him off the diamond.
The Reds had scored once in the fourth when Wally Berger hit a freak triple and scored on Ival Goodman's fly to right. Berger hit the ball down third like a bullet; it caromed off English's shins and bounded away from Reis in left. In the sixth, Berger led off with a walk and, with two out, Lombardi homered over the left field wall.
Not a Bee reached second base as Vandy won his fifth game in a row. Four days later, his sixth straight victory made baseball history.
Four days after John Samuel Vander Meer pitched a no-hit game against Boston, the left-hander faced the Brooklyn Dodgers before the second largest crowd in Ebbets Field history. But it was not just Vander Meer that caused the 38,784 fans to pay their way into the park on Wednesday, June 15, 1938 : this was the first night game in Brooklyn history and thousands were turned away.
On hand were Vandy's parents and 500 Midland Park (N.J.) neighbors to see Johnny pitch against big Max Butcher in a game delayed more than half an hour by ceremonies and field events.
Vandy's fast ball and curve were better in this game than in his first no-hitter, and his pitches were even harder to follow under lights. But he was also wilder. He retired the first five Dodgers on easy chances, then walked Dolph Camilli with two out in the second. Ernie Koy ended the inning with a pop to second.
With two out in the third, Kiki Cuyler walked but Pete Coscarart flied deep to Wally Berger in left. Vandy retired the Dodgers in order in the fourth, tossed out both Camilli and Koy in the fifth, and Leo Durocher closed the frame with a foul to catcher Ernie Lombardi .
Cuyler walked for the second time in the sixth with one out and Manager Burleigh Grimes sent Gibby Brack to bat for Coscarart . Vandy, who had fanned Coscarart in the first, relief pitcher Tot Pressnell in third and Babe Phelps in the fourth, each for the second out of the inning, now struck out Brack and retired Buddy Hassett on an infield roller.
The fans, noisily pro-Brooklyn at the start, began to root for Vander Meer now, with the Dodgers behind, 5-0. Johnny forced Phelps to ground out at the start of the seventh, then walked both Harry Lavagetto and Camilli . Vandy struck out Koy and got out of the inning when Durocher's grounder was turned into a forceout at second.
Woody English batted for relief pitcher Luke Hamlin in the eighth and fanned. Cuyler , who had walked twice and flied to right, again sent a fly to right fielder Ival Goodman . Johnny Hudson , Coscarart's replacement, became the southpaw's eighth and final strikeout.
Everybody had the jitters as the last of the ninth begane, and Vander Meer was no exception. He threw three straight balls to Hassett , then took his grounder and tagged him out on the first-base line. But he couldn't locate the plate now. He walked Phelps , Lavagetto and Camilli on just 18 pitches and the bases were loaded. Manager Bill McKechnie went to the mound to steady him.
Durocher was the last hurdle and Leo , while not much of a hitter, was dangerous in the pinch - and the bases were still loaded. Leo swung hard and lined one into the field stands foul. A moment later he lifted a high fly that Harry Craft took easily in short center field.
The crowd went wild. It was as if one of their beloved Dodgers had accomplished this most sensational pitching feat of all time. Vandy had quite a struggle making his way off the field to the riotous clubhouse where, excited and tired, he could only flop on a bench and grin.
The Reds had knocked Butcher out of the box with a four-run uprising in the third. Berger started it with two out when he beat out a grounder to third and took second on Lavagetto's wild throw to first. Goodman walked and Frank McCormick homered into the lower left field stands. Lombardi walked, Craft singled to center and Riggs drove in the fourth run with a single off the right field wall. Pressnell relived Butcher and fanned Billy Myers to end the inning.
With one gone in the seventh, Goodman rifled a single off Pressnell's right kneecap, causing the knuckleball pitcher's removal on a stretcher. Hamlin came on and fanned McCormick as Goodman stole second. Craft's third straight single to center scored Goodman . The Reds' sixth run scored in the eighth when Myers reached first on Lavagetto's low throw, was forced at second by Vander Meer, who was trying to sacrifice and, with two out, Berger tripled to deep center for his third hit.
Vandy, who set no-hit game records with eight walks and eight left on base, was a sports sensation after his two successive no-hitters, including the first ever pitched at night in the majors. Offers of all sorts poured in as the sports world eagerly awaited his next game.
The was on Sunday, June 19th , at Boston before 34,511 fans, including the great Cy Young . Vandy, under tremendous tension, did not give up a hit for three innings. Johnny Cooney led off the fourth with a bounder over Vandy's glove which shortstop Myers raced behind second to grab. He threw Cooney out on a great play. Debs Garms worked the count to three and two, then singled cleanly to center, and Vandy was happy.
"The strain of no-hit pitching was getting on my nerves," he said after his 14-1 victory. He had pitched 21 2/3 consecutive hitless innings for a National League record. It was his seventh straight victory; he won two more in a row, and finished the season with a 15-10 record.
Johnny Vander Meer was a three-time consecutive strikeout champion (1941, 1942, 1943) in the National League, joining Hall of Fame pitchers Dizzy Dean (1932-1935), Dazzy Vance (1922-1928), Grover Alexander (1914-1917), Christy Mathewson (1903-1905) and Amos Rusie (1893-1895).