Records are made to be broken. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Well in baseball there are some records that most likely will live forever. Cy Young’s 511 wins immediately comes to mind. So does Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 strikeouts. Most people agree Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played record is safe as well as Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak. There is one record that is just as unbreakable, one that rarely gets talked about in this age endless, mindless stats. It has nothing to do with most home runs hit at night, career wins in April or who has the most RBI’s when the moon is full on the same day I ordered the soup instead of the salad. And while the records listed above and countless others are held by Hall of Famers and superstars, this record is held by someone who owned a career record of 119-121 with a 3.44 ERA.
Say hello to Johnny Vander Meer and his two consecutive no-hitters.
On June 11, 1938 Vander Meer tossed his first no hitter for the Cincinnati Reds against the Boston Bees and on June 15 he hurled his second gem against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Oddly enough, 1938 was not his best year. In 1942, he was 18-12 with a 2.43 ERA as opposed to 15-10, 3.12 in 1938. He was with the Reds in 1940 when they won the World Series but injuries limited him to 48 innings pitched. For his career, he led the National League in strikeouts three years in a row (1941-1943). Only four other pitchers in National League history have matched that feat. So while Vander Meer was a pretty good pitcher, his career numbers pale in comparison to the other record holders.
Since 1900, there have been a total of 229 no hitters through 2011. That works out to be a little over 2 per season. Some of the greatest pitchers in baseball history such as Greg Maddux and Whitey Ford have never thrown one. As you have already figured out, you need a great deal of luck when throwing a shutout much less a no hitter. I believe Mark Buehrle in 2009 threw a perfect game and then a perfect five innings before allowing a hit in the sixth. That maybe the closest someone has come to tossing consecutive no-no’s.
Johnny Vander Meer’s no hit mark should be mentioned among the most unbreakable records of all time. Outside of Cy Young’s record for wins, this is the oldest of the so-called unbreakable records. It was set almost 75 years ago; Ryan stopped playing after 1993, DiMaggio’s streak was set three years AFTER Vander Meer’s and Ripken ended his games streak in 1998. More attention should be paid to a pitcher after he throws a no-hitter so we can see if he can come close to the “unhittable” Johnny Vander Meer.