Johnny Vander Meer

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Johnny Vander Meer
Johnny Vander Meer.png
Johnny Vander Meer in 1948
Pitcher
Born: (1914-11-02)November 2, 1914
Prospect Park, New Jersey
Died: October 6, 1997(1997-10-06) (aged 82)
Tampa, Florida
Batted: Switch Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 22, 1937 for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
May 7, 1951 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Win–loss record 119–121
Earned run average 3.44
Strikeouts 1,294
Teams
Career highlights and awards

John Samuel Vander Meer (November 2, 1914 – October 6, 1997) was an American professional baseball player.[1] He played in Major League Baseball as a pitcher, most notably for the Cincinnati Reds.[1] Vander Meer was most well known for being the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw two consecutive no-hitters.[2] After the impressive start to his major league career, he experienced problems controlling the accuracy of his pitching, and his later career was marked by inconsistent performances.[3]

Baseball career[edit]

Born in Prospect Park, New Jersey, Vander Meer threw left-handed and batted as a switch hitter.[1] He had an inauspicious start to his professional baseball career. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1933 and assigned to the Dayton Ducks.[4] Dayton then sold his contract to a Boston Bees minor league affiliate, the Scranton Miners of the New York-Pennsylvania League.[4] The Miners found his playing ability to be lacking and sent him to the Cincinnati Reds affiliate, the Nashville Volunteers, in a trade for Tiny Chaplin.[4] From Nashville, he was sent to the Durham Bulls, where the Bulls manager and catcher, Johnny Gooch, was credited with helping control the wildness of Vander Meer's pitching.[4] In 1936, he posted a record of 19 wins against six losses for Durham.[5]

Vander Meer in 1940

Vander Meer made his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds on April 22, 1937 at the age of 22.[1] He won 3 games and lost 4 before being sent back the minor leagues with the Syracuse Chiefs for most of the season when the Reds recalled him in September.[5] The following year on June 11, 1938, Vander Meer pitched a no hitter against the Boston Bees.[6] Four days later against the Brooklyn Dodgers in what was the first night game ever held at Ebbets Field, he threw another no hitter, becoming the only man to ever throw two consecutive no hitters in the major leagues.[7][8]

Vander Meer's performance earned him the role as the starting pitcher for the National League team in the 1938 All-Star game held at Cincinnati's Crosley Field.[9] The American League team - having won four of the previous five All-Star games - was favored to win the game, but Vander Meer pitched three scoreless innings and allowed only one hit, as the National League went on to win by a score of 4-1.[9][10] He ended the season with a record of 15 wins against 10 losses and a 3.12 earned run average for the fourth place Reds. He might have won more games, but spent nearly a month in the hospital being treated for boils late in the season.[11]

After his impressive rookie season, Vander Meer had a disappointing 1939 season, when he fell ill during spring training, and then suffered an injury when he slipped on a wet pitching mound in Pittsburgh.[11][12] He posted a record of only five wins with nine losses and an earned run average of 4.67. Early in the 1940 season, he began to experience problems controlling the accuracy of his pitches. In June, the Reds released him back to the minor leagues where he played for the Indianapolis Indians and produced 6 wins against 4 losses.[5][13] He returned to the major leagues in September and posted a 3-1 record, including a 12 inning victory against Philadelphia on September 18, that clinched the National League pennant for the Reds.[11][14] In the 13th inning, Vander Meer hit a double, advanced to third base on a sacrifice fly, then scored the winning run on a squeeze bunt.[15] In the 1940 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Vander Meer made only one appearance when he entered Game 5 in the fifth inning with the Reds trailing by a score of 7-0. He pitched three scoreless innings as the Reds lost the game by a score of 8-0.[16] The Reds went on to win the series in seven games.[17] It would be the only post-season appearance of Vander Meer's career.[18]

In 1941, Vander Meer's performance improved somewhat with a 16-12 record and six shutouts while leading the league with 202 strikeouts. On June 6, 1941 in a game against Philadelphia, he allowed only one hit.[19] Vander Meer later recalled that the only hit in the game could have been ruled an error, as shortstop Eddie Joost fielded the ground ball, then dropped it before throwing to first base.[20] He earned his third All-Star selection in the 1942 All-Star game, and once again threw three scoreless innings in a 3-1 loss to the American League.[21] He finished the 1942 season with a career-high 18 wins against 12 losses and once again led the league in strikeouts. He posted a 15-16 record in 1943 for the second place Reds and led the league in strikeouts for a third consecutive year. On March 3, 1944, Vander Meer joined the United States Navy and was stationed at Sampson Naval Training Station in New York where he would play for the Navy baseball team.[22] He was discharged from the Navy in December 1945, having lost two years of his major league career to his military service,[23] but Vander Meer claimed that his extensive military play made him less wild as a pitcher, which his record partially supports.[24]

The thirty-one-year-old pitcher returned to play for the Reds in 1946 although he was not able to recapture his previous form. He produced one more notable season in 1948 when he won 17 games with 14 losses, before his contract was sold to the Chicago Cubs in February 1950.[25] After an ineffective year with the Cubs, he was released in March 1951 and was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians.[1] He appeared in only one game for the Indians on May 7, 1951 before being released on June 30, 1951 at the age of 36.[1] Vander Meer was an incidental witness when his Cincinnati team-mate, Ewell Blackwell, almost duplicated his consecutive no-hit feat in 1947, by pitching a no-hitter against the Braves, then in his next appearance held the Dodgers without a hit until the ninth inning when he gave up two hits.[20]

Vander Meer returned to the minor leagues where he played for five more seasons until the age of 40.[5] In 1952, fourteen years after his consecutive no-hitters, Vander Meer pitched a no-hitter for the Tulsa Oilers against the Beaumont Roughnecks in the Texas League.[26]

Career statistics[edit]

A four-time All-Star, Vander Meer compiled a 119–121 record with 1,294 strikeouts and a 3.44 ERA in 2,104⅔ innings over a thirteen-year Major League career.[1] He had 29 career shutouts.[1] Along with Tim Lincecum (2008–2010), Randy Johnson (1999–2002), and Warren Spahn (1949–52), Vander Meer is one of only four NL pitchers since 1940 to lead the league in strikeouts in three straight seasons (1941–43).[27] Just those four and Dizzy Dean (1932–35) have done it since 1931.[27]

Later life[edit]

After retiring as a player at the age of 40, Vander Meer became a minor league manager in the Cincinnati Reds organization for ten seasons before retiring in 1962.[28] After his retirement from baseball, he worked for a brewing company.[11] He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1958.[3] He died of an abdominal aneurysm at his home in Tampa, Florida, on October 6, 1997 at the age of 82.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Johnny Vander Meer statistics". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "This Day In Sports: Johnny Vander Meer Makes Debut(s) That Would Impress Stephen Strasburg". espn.go.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Johnny Vander Meer at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame". cincinnati.reds.mlb.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Vander Meer Pitches Second No Run, No Hit Game In Row". The Bulletin. United Press International. 16 June 1938. p. 7. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Johnny Vander Meer minor league statistics". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "June 11, 1938 Braves-Reds box score". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "June 15, 1938 Reds-Dodgers box score". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Consecutive No Hitters by Johnny Vander Meer". Baseball Almanac.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Vander Meer And Gomez Slated To Start All-Star Game Today". The Meriden Record. Associated Press. 6 July 1938. p. 4. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "1938 All-Star Game". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d Langford, Walter M. (June 1985). Johnny Vander Meer Recalls His Consecutive No-Hitters. Baseball Digest. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Johnny Vander Meer Is Working Hard To Perfect Control". The Daily Times. United Press International. 16 March 1940. p. 4. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Reds Release Vander Meer". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press International. 29 June 1940. p. 7. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "1940 Johnny Vander Meer Pitching Log". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "September 18, 1940 Reds-Phillies box score". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  16. ^ "1940 World Series Game 5 box score". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "1940 World Series". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Johnny Vander Meer post-season statistics". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "Vander Meer Wins One-Hitter". Eugene Register Guard. Associated Press. 8 June 1941. p. 6. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  20. ^ a b Levitt, Ed (October 1971). Johnny Vander Meer Recalls His Double No-Hitters. Baseball Digest. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  21. ^ "1942 All-Star Game". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "Remembering Johnny Vander Meer". baseballinwartime.blogspot.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "Navy Is to discharge Johnny Vander Meer". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. 19 December 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  24. ^ Bullock, Steven R. (2004). Playing for Their Nation: Baseball and the American Military during World War II. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 0-8032-1337-9. 
  25. ^ "Vander Meer Sold to Cubs By Cincinnati". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. 11 February 1950. p. 20. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  26. ^ "Vander Meer Again Hurls No-Hitter". The Dispatch. Associated Press. 16 July 1952. p. 6. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  27. ^ a b "Amazing on-field feats well within reach". espn.go.com. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "Johnny Vander Meer minor league managerial record". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  29. ^ "Double No-Hit Johnny Vander Meer is dead at 82". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Associated Press. 7 October 1997. p. 7. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Bill Dietrich
Johnny Vander Meer
No-hitter pitcher
June 11, 1938
June 15, 1938
Succeeded by
Johnny Vander Meer
Monte Pearson