On this day in 1938, Johnny Vander Meer made history. Eighty-two years later, nobody has beaten his feat, much less matched it. Vander Meer pitched back-to-back no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds in June of 1938. Only a couple pitchers have even come close to duplicating his feat (California’s Nolan Ryan in 1973 and Cincinnati’s Ewell Blackwell in 1947 as written by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian in 2013). When we think about unbreakable sports records, this might be the most unbreakable of them all. I know it’s only been eighty two years but even with this limited amount of data, it’s hard to believe any pitcher will ever pitch three consecutive no-no’s.
Johnny Vander Meer pitched a no-hitter for the Cincinnati Reds on June 11, 1938 versus the Boston Bees. Four days later, Vander Meer went out there on the bump and did it again, this time at Brooklyn in the first ever night game at historic Ebbets Field.
I’ve got to believe that the vision for hitters in a “first ever night game” was not up to par and that may have contributed to a “pitcher’s game” at Ebbets. Nonetheless, Vander Meer did it and nobody else ever has, including Nolan Ryan who holds the record of most no-hitters with seven. Vander Meer went on to have an average to above-average career, winning 119 games while losing 121 with a 3.44 ERA over 13 seasons. He made four All-Star Games and is a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Johnny died at age 82 in 1997.
82 years ago, Johnny Vander Meer did what nobody will likely ever do again. On this day, despite the lack of Major League Baseball, we celebrate what he accomplished.