Vander Meer led NL to win in '38 All-Star Game

Gehringer hit .500 in six Midsummer Classics

Vander Meer led NL to win in '38 All-Star Game

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The hottest item in the first half of the 1938 season was 23-year-old Cincinnati left-handed pitcher Johnny Vander Meer.

In his second Major League season, Vander Meer set a record that still stands -- and might never be matched -- when he threw back-to-back no-hitters for the Reds on June 11 and June 15.

The first came against the Boston Braves in Cincinnati. The second came at Brooklyn in the first night game ever at Ebbets Field. Overall, Vander Meer pitched 21 1/3 consecutive hitless innings, and the no-hitters were part of a streak of nine straight wins.

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Naturally, Vander Meer was a popular choice to be the National League's starting pitcher for the 1938 All-Star Game played July 6 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

He was pitted against the Yankees' Lefty Gomez, who was making his fifth start for the American League in the six-year history of the series.

Vander Meer got the best of Gomez as the National League won for only the second time in six seasons.

Vander Meer allowed one hit in three scoreless innings to get credited for the win in the National League's 4-1 victory.

The difference in the game was four errors committed by the American League, including two on a single play in the seventh that resulted in the infamous "bunt home run."

With the National League leading, 2-0, in the bottom of the seventh, Reds first baseman Frank McCormick led off the inning with a single off Lefty Grove of the Boston Red Sox. Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop Leo Durocher then dropped a bunt up the third-base line.

Jimmie Foxx, who normally played first for the Red Sox but played third in All-Star Games in deference to the Yankees' Lou Gehrig, threw wildly into right. As McCormick raced for the plate, American League right fielder Joe DiMaggio threw wildly home -- allowing Durocher as well as McCormick to score.

The National League scored only one earned run in the game. Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi was 2-for-4 with an RBI single that followed a Mel Ott triple in the fourth.

The American League got only seven hits off pitchers Vander Meer, Bill Lee and Mace Brown, who each worked three innings. Shortstop Joe Cronin of the Red Sox put the American League on the board with an RBI double in the ninth.

Second baseman Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers went 1-for-3 in his sixth and final All-Star Game. Gehringer, the American League Most Valuable Player and batting champion in 1937, went 10-for-20 in All-Star Games -- his .500 career average still the all-time record. He also drew nine walks for a .655 on-base percentage in All-Star Games.