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Back-to-back no-hit starts, Part 6 — Rex Barney

Johnny Vander Meer threw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938.
Johnny Vander Meer threw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938.

Today is the 78th anniversary of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer’s amazing accomplishment of tossing the second of two back-to-back no-hitters.

On Saturday, June 11, 1938, Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees at home at Crosley Field. Four days later, on Wednesday, June 15, he threw another no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field to become the only major-league pitcher to throw no-nos in consecutive starts.

Mike Moore, Frank MacCormack, Gary Gentry, Les Cain, Sandy Koufax and Rex Barney all threw back-to-back no-hit starts, though none of their outings went nine innings. The details of those starts generated using http://www.baseball-reference.com‘s superb Play Index are below, and we’ve been taking a closer look at each of the pairings each day.

No. 6: Rex Barney

The Brooklyn Dodgers’ Rex Barney threw his only career no-hitter in 1948 against the New York Giants.

Rex Barney
Rex Barney
But five years earlier, Barney threw back-to-back no-hit starts thanks to some finagling by manager Leo Durocher, which began on Saturday, September 25, 1943, at Wrigley Field, against Chicago Cubs’ skipper James Wilson.

“Durocher instituted his campaign of trickery earlier, starting Rex Barney, right-hander, on the mound, inducing Wilson to start a lineup loaded with left-handed hitters,” noted Brooklyn Eagle correspondent Tommy Holmes. “After Barney had pitched to one batter, Durocher replaced him with Fritz Ostermueller.”

Barney in that game finished with a single base on balls issued to Stan Hack.

Barney next got the ball for the Dodgers three days later against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the opener of a doubleheader at Forbes Field.

After issuing one walk each in the first and second innings, Barney opened the third by walking opposing pitcher Wally Hebert before getting Pete Coscarart to ground out to third. After he walked Johnny Barrett and Jim Russell to load the bases, Durocher gave the ball to Rube Melton.

The Brooklyn Eagle‘s Holmes questioned Durocher’s “jittery mental gymnastics” in making the call to the bullpen.

“Maybe Durocher, as manager, was justified in his lack of confidence in Barney because Rex was so wild,” noted Holmes “But he sent Rube Melton to relieve and Melton had done nothing in months to establish any sort of confidence.”

The Dodgers dropped both games of the twin bill to Pittsburgh, yet Barney had his back-to-back no-hit starts.

Name Game 1 Game 2 IP H R ER BB SO ERA HBP WP TM
Mike Moore 1985-05-30 1985-06-04 2.1 0 2 2 4 1 7.71 0 0 SEA
Frank MacCormack 1976-07-26 1977-04-24 3.1 0 3 3 7 2 8.10 2 4 DET-SEA
Gary Gentry 1973-06-05 1973-06-10 3.0 0 1 1 4 0 3.00 0 0 ATL
Les Cain 1972-05-24 1972-05-28 5.1 0 4 4 6 5 6.75 0 0 DET
Sandy Koufax 1958-07-05 1958-07-18 2.1 0 1 1 4 4 3.86 0 0 LAD
Rex Barney 1943-09-25 1943-09-28 2.1 0 2 2 6 1 7.71 0 0 BRO
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/10/2016.