Vander Meer Wasn’t Perfect

Don Larsen’s during the 1956 World Series, Dave Stewart’s and Fernando Valenzuela’s on the same day in 1990, and Dock Ellis’on acid in 1970 are among the most famous no-hitters in MLB history. However, Johnny Vander Meer’s 2nd consecutive no-hitter in June 1938 also has a claim on that title. His feat is remembered and admired by casual baseball fans and diehard ones alike. Whenever I see a countdown of the “most unbreakable records” in either baseball or sports in general, I can count on Johnny making the list. And with good reason, because this combination of skill, luck, and opportunity doesn’t come along very often.

"Double No Hit"... the feat is cooler than the nickname.

The 23 year old was about halfway through a 3.2 WAR season in his first full MLB season. His ERA ended up at 3.12, and he had a K-BB rate of 125-103 in 225.1 innings. He had a fine season, but it was not spectacular. But on June 11, he twirled the 106th no-hitter in MLB history against the Boston Braves. He had just 4 strikeouts and 3 walks, which is not a particularly good amount of either. Then, on June 15, he threw the 107th and his 2nd consecutive no-hitter. This time, the Brooklyn Dodgers were the victims. Vander Meer walked 8 people in the game, and one hitter, Dolph Camilli, reached base 3 times! Despite the two no-hitters, Johnny Vander Meer was not especially dominant in these two starts. He did surrender 11 baserunners in 18 innings, after all.

I was surprised at how many walks were issued in these supposedly dominant performances. Perhaps Vander Meer doesn’t deserve the title of “most dominant two start stretch.” Before I could really say that, though, I had to find another candidate. I did not expect to find my guy in the increased offensive period of the 90s-00s, and I did not expect to find my guy in the 1920s-early 30s, which was every bit as pitching challenged. I was wrong. Dazzy Vance strung together two starts for the ages at the end of his 1925 campaign. He led the league in strikeouts that year, with 221 in 265 innings. He was on his way to a 5th place finish in the MVP voting just a year after winning the trophy. On September 8, he threw a one-hit shutout with six strikeouts and no walks against the Philadelphia Phillies. Then, on September 13, Vance threw a 1 walk no-hitter with 9 Ks- again against the Phillies.

Kids, that's a textbook motion right there.

By owning the Phillies for 18 consecutive innings in 1925, Dazzy Vance became the only player in history to allow 1 baserunner or fewer in consecutive starts. Now, that is a record. The Hall of Famer born Charles Arthur Vance certainly has my vote for “most dominant consecutive starts.”

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