By Glen Sparks
Only a single off the superbly nicknamed Louis Nelson “Chicken” Hawks kept Dazzy Vance from throwing back-to-back no-hitters in the late summer of 1925.
Vance tossed his no-no for the Brooklyn Robins (forerunner of the Dodgers) on Sept. 13 at Ebbets Field. He beat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-1 in the first game of a doubleheader. The Brooklyn ace, and reigning National League Most Valuable Player, struck out nine batters and walked one. The Phillies scored a run on two Brooklyn errors and a sacrifice fly. Milt Stock and Jimmy Johnson led the Brooklyn offense, with three RBI apiece.
Just a few days before his no-hitter, on Sept. 8, Vance had tossed a one-hitter against those very same Phillies, also at Ebbets Field. In that start, Vance only got the bare minimum of support. He beat Philly 1-0 in a pitching duel with Ray Pierce. Jack Fournier knocked in the Robins’ only run, scoring Stock in the fourth inning on a base hit.
Dazzy didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. Chicken Hawks, batting fifth in the order, singled with one out in the second inning. (Thank you to baseball-reference.com for providing details about these games. You can go there to check out box scores from games in 1914 to the present day. Awesome.)
Hawks, who was erased on a caught stealing, finished the game 1-for-3. The first baseman from San Francisco batted .322 in 1925, his second and final year in the majors. Hawks broke in with the New York Yankees as a 25-year-old rookie in 1921 and hit a respectable .288 in 73 at-bats. The first baseman from San Francisco spent most of his long playing career in the minor leagues, in California and on the east coast.
Following his two great starts, Vance raised his won-loss record to 22-8 and lowered his ERA to 3.32. He extended his no-hit streak to 16 innings until giving up a first-inning single to Max Carey of the Pittsburgh Pirates in his next start.
The 6-foot-2-inch right-hander from America’s heartland (born in Iowa, raised in Nebraska) finished the 1925 campaign with a 22-9 mark and 3.53 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts, something he did every from 1922 through 1928, with 221 and in shutouts with four. Dazzy retired after the 1935 season with a 197-140 career won-loss record and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
Johnny Vander Meer, of course, is the only pitcher in Major League history to toss back-to-back no-hitters. He did it in 1938 for the Cincinnati Reds. Besides Vance and Vander Meer, the only other pitchers to throw back-to-back shutouts, allowing one or fewer total hits are:
Howard Ehmke, 1923 for the Boston Red Sox
Jim Tobin, 1944 for the Boston Braves
Max Scherzer, 2015 for the Washington Nationals
Congratulations to this select group of pitchers for being back-to-back magnificent.