Tag Archives: Johnny Gooch

Vandy was a Vol

Johnny Vander Meer was born on November 2, 1914 to Dutch parents in Prospect, New Jersey, and grew up in Midland Park. Baseball became his love and he found the attention of a Cincinnati Reds scout, signing with Dayton (Class C – Mid-Atlantic League).[1] The next two seasons were spent in Scranton (Class A – NYPL) where he was 18-18.

In his first three years in the Cincinnati Reds farm system he developed arm trouble. In 1936 he was sent to Nashville to consult with Dr. Lee Jensen, a noted sports doctor who determined there was an issue with a muscle in Vander Meer’s back. After therapy and exercises, he was being counted on as a starter for the Vols.

vander-meerIn two-game exhibition series against the St. Louis Browns at Nashville’s Wilson Park, he was starting pitcher on April 7 and appeared as a reliever on April 8. In the first game, a cold and windy affair, after one out he issued walks to four consecutive batters to force in a run before being relieved by Johnny Intlekofer. The Browns won 3-1.

The next day he relieved Junie Barnes in the seventh. Only giving up one hit, Vander Meer gave up five runs in the eighth; for the game, he struck out four, walked five, and hit batter Harlond Clift before being relieved by Ray Davis. Johnny was the losing pitcher.

On April 21, he faced the Atlanta Crackers in his first start for the Vols, another cold affair that was eventually called due to darkness that ended in a 4-4 tie. Continuing to relieve for manager Lance Richbourg, on May 3 Vander Meer was given his second start, this time in Birmingham. He allowed two runs in five innings before being yanked for Red Ahearn.

In Nashville’s Sulphur Dell on May 9, Johnny started against New Orleans, but did not finish in the Vols 15-8 trouncing of the Pelicans. Having appeared in 31 innings in eight games but with no wins, he started against the Travelers in Little Rock on May 19, but did not last the inning after walking the first three batters he faced. He was the losing pitcher.

With 25 bases on balls in 32 innings, his arm control was beginning to show. By June 1 he was gone, sent to Durham (Class B, Piedmont League). Still under contract to Nashville, Vander Meer found his curve ball under the tutelage of manager Johnny Gooch, and won 19 games while losing only 6 with a 2.65 ERA.

Most impressive were his 272 strikeouts in 194 innings. He struck out 20 in one game, 19 and 18 in two others. “Vandy” was named The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year for 1936.

Sold by the Vols to Cincinnati, he was invited to spring training and spent the season between the Reds where he was 3-4 with a 3.84 ERA, and Syracuse (Class AA – International League) where he was 5-11 with a 3.34 ERA.

He was an All Star for Cincinnati in 1938 and threw consecutive no-hitters, the only player to ever accomplish the feat. His first came against the Boston Bees on June 11 in Cincinnati and the second was accomplished against the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 15, the first night game ever played at Ebbets Field.

Four days later, on June 19 in Boston, he no-hit the Braves until one out in the fourth inning when Debs Garms hit a single. The streak ended at 21 1/3 innings, which included the batter Vander Meer retired in the game before his first no-hitter.[2]

Named The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year that season, Johnny was also named to the All Star team in 1939, 1942, and 1943.

His lifetime 119-121 record included 1,294 strikeouts, and he led the league in that category for three consecutive seasons; 1941 (202), 1942 (186), and 1943 (174).

Upon his release from the Cleveland Indians in 1951, he pitched in 24 games for Tulsa and won 11, losing 10. But on July 15, 1952, 14 years and one month after his record performance, he hurled a no-hitter in a Texas League game against Beaumont.

Oddly enough, Beaumont manager Harry Craft was centerfielder for the Reds and made the final putout in the second no-hitter by Vander Meer. The ball was hit by future Hall of Famer Leo Durocher of Brooklyn.

Upon retiring from active playing, he managed in the minors for 10 seasons where his teams won a total of 761 games and lost 719. Future major leaguers Jim Maloney, Vic Davalillo, Jack Baldschun, Lee May, Jim Wynn, Ed Kranepool, and Pete Rose played for “The Dutch Master”.

When his baseball career was over he worked for a brewing company and enjoyed fishing. Vander Meer passed away on October 6, 1997 in Tampa, Florida, and was buried with a baseball in his left hand.[3]

SOURCES

Ancestry.com

Baseball-reference.com

Nashville Tennessean

Newspapers.com

Retrosheet.org

Sabr.org

© 2016 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

 

[1] Johnson, James W. Johnny Vander Meer, SABR Baseball Biography Project. Retrieved from ww.sabr.org

[2] Goldstein, Richard. “Johnny Vander Meer, 82, No-Hit Master, Dies”, New York Times, October 7, 1997

[3] Johnson, James W. Ibid.

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A Short Season At The Nashville Helm

Frank Brazill was Nashville player-manager for the first half of the 1935 Southern Association season, playing first base in 45 games and hitting for a .288 average before being replaced by Johnny Butler as Vols manager for the remainder of the season.  Brazill had been named manager in November of 1934, but was replaced on June 10 as the team was mired in fifth place.

Although there was some disagreement with Vols player Johnny Gooch, there appeared to be no real dissension on the ball club under Brazill’s tutelage. His team was not performing to the expectations of Nashville owner Ted Murray and general manager Jimmy Hamilton.  Murray was also  a part-owner of the Minneapolis Millers and sent Brazill to the American Association club as a utility infielder, coach, and scout to finish the year.Frank-Brazil

The rest of Frank Brazill’s career had been notable. A member of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame, Brazill had previously played in the PCL for seven years for the Portland Beavers, Seattle Indians, Los Angeles Angels, and Mission Reds.  He hit over .300 each season and during one four-year span averaged 25 home runs a season.  Mostly a scatter-armed third baseman, Brazill led the league in errors in 1926.

At the age of 24 he was named manager of Portland on July 29, 1924 to finish the season and continuing to play.  His team compiled a record of 40-45. After retiring as a player, he served as a scout for the New York Giants, and left that position in 1942 to become manager of Portland once again, finishing the season with a 67-110 record.

Joining Memphis in the Southern Association in 1929, Brazill had 24 doubles, 11 triples, 16 home runs, and hit for a .342 average. Brazill played first- and second base and also the outfield during six seasons with the Chicks. In between his stints at the helm of Portland, Brazill managed Nashville, Greenwood in the East Dixie and Cotton States Leagues, Fort Smith in the Western Association, and returned to Memphis as manager for one season in 1939.

Able to hit for power and average, he only appeared in 72 games in 1921 and 1922 for the Philadelphia Athletics, probably due to his weak fielding.  Brazill was also a fiery hot-head who often argued with umpires and fought with other players.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on August 11, 1899, his first professional season was in 1918 at Cumberland, Maryland in the Blue Ridge League, four hours from his home.

Brazill passed away on November 3, 1976 in Oakland, California.

 

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