Where Are they Now? Baseball Legend Johnny Vander Meer
About the baseball legend Johnny Vander Meer who pitched two consecutive no-hitters, history and biography of the man then and now.
9-DAY WONDERS--ON THE 10TH DAY
Headline--1938: JOHNNY VANDER MEER
At the Peak: He was a wild young left-hander from New Jersey who'd come up with the Cincinnati Reds in 1937 and had only a so-so season. Thus, when he pitched a no-hit game against the Boston Braves on June 11, 1938, Johnny Vander Meer felt he'd reached his supreme moment of baseball glory.
But, as sports fans with long memories will recall, that was only the stage-setter for one of the most incredible feats in major league baseball history. The real climax came four days later, when "Vandy" went to the mound at Ebbets Field to face the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first night game ever played in New York.
A record crowd of 38,748 was in the stands to see the no-hit kid perform under the lights, and to their amazement, the hard-throwing 23-year-old proceeded to rack up another string of hitless innings, mowing down the likes of Cookie Lavagetto, Dolph Camilli, and Kiki Cuyler with ease.
Then came the nail-biting, seat-squirming ninth inning, and big trouble. Suddenly Vandy lost his control and walked Babe Phelps, Lavagetto, and Camilli. The bases were loaded with only one out. Things looked bad for the Kid, but he managed to get the next out with a force play at the plate. Then the Dodgers' Leo Durocher, a feared clutch hitter, lofted an easy fly ball to Harry Craft in center field, and Vandy had achieved baseball immortality with two consecutive no-hitters--a feat never achieved in the major leagues before or since.
And Today: After pitching in the majors until 1951--finishing up with the Cleveland Indians and a career record of 119 wins and 121 losses--and then managing Syracuse in the International League, Mr. Double-No-Hit is a grandfather living in Tampa, Fla., where he has the indisputably secure job of selling Schlitz beer to military bases across the U.S. South.
Has he changed much since his 1938 glory days?
"Well, the weight's not much different," says Vandy, "but a lot of the hair's gone. I lost that hair with too many three-and-two pitches."
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