Double No-Hit by James W. Johnson (2012)
Johnny Vander Meer’s Historic Night Under the Lights
by James W. Johnson
University of Nebraska Press, 2012
One of the most amazing feats in baseball history, Johnny Vander Meer‘s consecutive no-hitters may never be matched. Author James W. Johnson takes the reader on a journey through nine innings of unbelievable baseball as Vander Meer refused to allow a single Brooklyn Dodger hit. It was Brooklyn’s first ever home night game, Babe Ruth was in attendance, and there was electricity in the crowd. The rookie pitcher was unfazed, and with his family on hand, he made history.
Double No-Hit is more than a story about a single game, however. Johnson delights the reader with anecdotes about other players involved, both teammates and opponents, including Hall of Famers Ernie Lombardi and Leo Durocher. Vander Meer’s relationship with his manager Bill McKechnie and general manager Warren Giles is discussed, as well as the remainder of Vandy’s career and beyond. Johnson examines the pitcher alongside the careers of Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller, and other Hall of Famers. The author argues that Vander Meer’s case isn’t as bad as his 119-121 record implies, but his career statistics are well below Cooperstown standards.
In the epilogue, Johnson takes a look at other pitchers who came close to matching Vander Meer’s feat, the closest being teammate Ewell Blackwell nine years later when he took a second no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth inning. Minor leaguer Tom Drees pitched back-to-back no-hitters in 1989, but one of those was only a seven-inning game. On the major league level, it has never happened since 1938.
Double No-Hit gives modern fans a new appreciation for Vander Meer’s accomplishment. The backstory adds more depth to the game itself, while the post-game history allows you to enter the pitcher’s mind and see his career as he saw it. A great read, recommended for fans of the Cincinnati Reds and baseball history.