Records are made to be broken. True, except for one major league baseball record that will never be broken—Johnny Vander Meer’s accomplishment of pitching back-to-back no-hitters in 1938. It was headlined on Thursday, June 16, 1938 as the “GREATEST FEAT IN GAME’S HISTORY.”
The story of the two no-hitters read like a Hollywood screenplay: Handsome, rookie pitcher from small town America achieves the miraculous achievement during first-ever night game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. Babe Ruth himself attended. Mom and Dad and 500 fans from Vander Meer’s hometown in Midland Park, NJ, watch every pitch nervously. Even the opposing Brooklyn Dodger fans start to cheer Vander Meer on in the seventh inning realizing they are witnessing baseball history. And just before the end, Vander Meer loses control in the ninth and walks the bases loaded—but he manages to get out of the jam and the Vander Meeracle is etched into baseball immortality!
Both of the teams Vandy beat in his two No Hit games, the Boston Bees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, once owned the contract rights to him. During his next outing, he went on to set a record for hitless innings with twenty-one and two-thirds… amazing!
Johnny threw another no hitter 14 years later, at the age of 37, pitching for Tulsa in the Texas League. He beat Beaumont 12-0. As a teenager, in the sandlots of Paterson, New Jersey, Johnny pitched five no hitters in one season, three of them consecutively (two for the Midland Park Rangers and one for the Prospects).
Vandy was a four time All Star. The southpaw had 1,294 strike outs. His 13-year career pitching record was 119-121 ERA of 3.44. Johnny’s Dutch parents considered baseball “a loafer’s paradise.” He died on October 6, 1997 at the age of 82.
MLB Network Remembers: 1938 (06/19/09)
MLBN Remembers feature on Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters in 1938. Watch Now
"Records, and record breaking for that matter, have become as much of an American pastime as the game of baseball itself.
Throughout the history of the game, fans have had the ability to watch players achieve individual accomplishments that seem insurmountable and never to be duplicated.
Many of these great records still lay pristine and untouched.
Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game and Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak are two records that only the baseball god’s could conjure up, but it is Johnny Vander Meer’s back to back no hitter record which the titans of baseball have been chasing for the longest amount of time.
From all of us at Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia, we applaud this great accomplishment.
The pursuit of record breaking may ignite our senses and imagination for a period of time, but it is the record which withstands time’s cleaning of the slate."
- Brandon Steiner, Founder & CEO
Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia
Johnny Vander Meer's accomplishment of back-to-back no-hitters is one of those amazing feats in the sport of baseball. I have pitched against and played alongside of some of the greatest pitchers of our times. Watching them never be able to throw one no hitter much less back-to-back. Heck, I feel I've been a pretty good pitcher over the years and have never been able to carry a no hitter past the seventh inning. (LOL) I'd say we'd be very fortunate to ever see this happen again but you never know, that's what's so great about the game of baseball.
- Andy Pettitte, Retired MLB Pitcher, New York Yankees
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