NEW YORK TIMES 1938
They turned on the greatest existing battery of baseball lights at Ebbets Field tonight for the inaugural night major league game in the metropolitan area. A record throng for the season there, 40,000, of whom 38,748 paid, came to see the fanfare and show that preceded the contest between the Reds and the Dodgers,. The game, before it was played, was partly incidental; the novelty of night baseball was the major attraction. Larry MacPhail, the Dodger’s owner, had two fife and drum corps and a band, and there was a series of sprinting exhibitions by Jesse Owens, the hero of the 1936 Olympics.
But Johnny Vander Meer, a tall, handsome twenty-two-year-old Cincinnati southpaw pitcher, stole the entire show by hurling his second successive no-hit, norun game, both coming within five days, and making baseball history that probably will never be duplicated. His previous nohitter was pitched in daylight last Saturday against the Boston Bees, the Reds winning, 3-0. Tonight the score was 6-0. The records reveal only seven pitchers credited with two no-hitters in their careers and none who achieved the feat in one season.
More drama was crowded into the final inning than a baseball crowd has felt in many a moon. Until that frame only one Dodger had got as far as second base, Lavagetto reaching there when Johnny issued passes to Cookie and Dolph Camilli in the seventh. But Vandy pitched out of that easily enough and the vast crowd was pulling for him to come through to the end. Johnny mowed down Woody English, batting for Luke Hamlin; Kiki Cuyler and Johnny Hudson in the eighth, fanning the first and third men, and when Vito Tamulis, fourth Brooklyn hurler, treated the Reds likewise in the ninth, Vandy came out for the crucial inning.
He started easily, taking Buddy Hassett’s bounder and tagging him out. Then his terrific speed got out of control and, while the fans sat forward tense and almost silent, walked Babe Phelps, Lavagetto and Camilli to fill the bases. All nerves were taut as Vandy pitched to Ernie Koy. With the count one and one, Ernie sent a bounder to third baseman Lew Riggs, who was so careful in making the throw to catcher Ernie Lombardi that a double play wasn’t possible.
Leo Durocher, so many times a hitter in the pinches, was the last hurdle for Vander Meer, and the crowd groaned as he swung viciously to line a foul high into the right field stands. But a moment later Leo swung again, the ball arched lazily toward short center field and Harry Craft camped under it for the put-out that brought unique distinction to the young hurler. It brought, also, a horde of admiring fans onto the field, with Vandy’s teammates ahead of them to hug and slap Johnny on the back and then to protect him from the mob as they struggled toward the Red dugout. The fans couldn’t get Johnny, but a few moments later they got his father and mother, who had accompanied a group of 500 citizens from Vandy’s home town of Midland Park, N.J. The elder Vander Meers were completely surrounded and it required nearly fifteen minutes before they could escape.
Johnny Vander Meer, who went 15-10 in 1938, pitched for 13 seasons in the major leagues, never completing another no-hitter. His lifetime record was 119-121.