Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15, 1938: Back to back

BROOKLYN - Baseball is a sport inextricably tied to its records. The numbers help compare players from different eras and help create arguments about whether a player could have thrived in different eras.

With the number of offensive records being broken in recent years, it's getting more difficult to pin down exactly which records are "unbreakable." Among the supposedly untouchable records to fall just in the last 20 years were Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, Hank Aaron's career home run record, and Ty Cobb's career runs scored record.

However, there are still some that can safely be called untouchable: Cy Young's 511 career wins, Old Hoss Radbourn's 59 wins in a single season, Hugh Duffy's .440 batting average in a single season, Cobb's .366 career batting average, and Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters.

If you're wondering who Johnny Vander Meer was, you're not alone. He was a below-average pitcher in the 30s and 40s, finishing his career with a below-.500 winning percentage. In 1938, at the age of 23, he had one of his better seasons, going 15-10 for the Reds. But it was two starts in June that put Vander Meer in the record books.

On June 11, Vander Meer threw a no-hitter against the Braves. While it was considered an impressive feat, that alone wouldn't be enough for him to be remembered forever. It was on his next start, though, that he entered the record books. June 15 was the first night game in the history of Ebbets Field, but Vander Meer stole the show by throwing his second straight no-hitter. It wasn't pretty - he walked 8 batters on his way to history - but it still counts. Vander Meer even got a hit himself for good measure.

Vander Meer's feat of two straight no-hitters is unmatched in baseball history, and it looms as one of the most unbreakable records in sports, simply because if anybody plans on breaking that record, they'll have to throw three consecutive no-hitters.

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