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Fun Cards: 1952 Topps Johnny Vander Meer “sunset card”

Vander Meer double no-hitter

Some people call them “sunset cards,” others call them “final tributes.” They are a player’s final card showing their career totals on the back.

Vander Meer double no-hitter

Johnny Vander Meer never got one. So now he’s got one. Even if the photo is really from his days with the Reds, I can pretend it’s an Indians jersey, can’t I? The back is the key, and that’s his career line on the back. I don’t like making card backs; it is a very tedious process. Plus I don’t know what Vander Meer’s eye color or hair color was. That stuff ain’t listed on his BBref page.

Double No-Hit by James W. Johnson (2012)

Vandy biography

Double No-Hit:
Johnny Vander Meer’s Historic Night Under the Lights

by James W. Johnson
University of Nebraska Press, 2012
216 pages

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.

Learn more about University of Nebraska Press.

Purchase Double No-Hit by James W. Johnson.

Trading with Chewing Liquorice

I recently completed a trade with Chewing Liquorice. For a stack of Expos, he sent back a treasure trove of Reds cards, many of which I had never seen, including a ton of Conlon cards from 1992-1994. This one commemorates one of Johnny Vander Meer‘s no-hitters…

These cards are fantastic as they help to keep the old stories alive, allowing us to learn about players that we never had the privilege to see.

There were a lot of other historical cards in the bunch, too. There were some 1991 Topps Archives, which were reprints of the 1953 Topps set. And some reprints of the 1954 Topps set, which I assume were released in 1992. They are not on my master checklist, so I will have to research them a little bit more to find out for sure, but they are exactly like the 1991 reprint set with glossy cardstock. Here’s the Ed Bailey card from that set:

All of the old players weren’t on newer or reprinted cards, though. Geoffrey threw in some fantastic vintage cards of Reds Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers, such as Wally Post, Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, and an O-Pee-Chee Joe Morgan:

So many cool cards were in this package, I can’t even begin to show them all. Buddy Bell, Ted Kluszewski, Reggie Sanders

I don’t remember the Action Packed baseball cards at all!

And a whole slew of George Foster awesomeness…

That last item is particularly cool. The Ted Williams Company made pogs that you could punch out and included them in their baseball card packs. This is something I have never seen before…but that just goes along with the rest of the package!

There was a lot of other great stuff in the package, from Johnny Bench to Joe Nuxhall to Ernie Lombardi to Barry Larkin…love it, love it, love it!

If you have some Expos to get rid off, you need to contact Chewing Liquorice and work out a deal. He’s a great trader!

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