Johnny Vander Meer’s second year in the big leagues was like none other in the history of the game. He won 15 games and was the starting pitcher for the National League in the 1938 All Star game. In the Midsummer Classic he retired the first three batters of the game including Earl Averill and Charlie Gehringer. The second inning was another 1-2-3 frame for Vandy featuring a Jimmie Foxx strikeout and a pair of groundouts by Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey. The 23-year old was the game’s winning pitcher, retiring 9 of the 10 batters he faced including 7 Hall of Famers.
Though the performance was certainly memorable, it was his work three weeks earlier that was truly historic. On June 11 he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Bees. Four days later at Ebbets Field in the first night game in New York baseball history, Vander Meer repeated the feat with a no-no against the Dodgers.
In the collection is this two-page handwritten letter from Vandy about Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie, a man whom he greatly admired.
“Bill McKechnie was a great MGR as his record indicates. He had the rare ability of players great respect rather than fear…Was known to be able to play for that 1 run to beat you and when to bring in his ace relieve man. Did not mess with players who did not put out 100% or take care of themselves.”
High praise indeed from Vander Meer about the man who was his manager for seven seasons.