Baseball has lost one of the greats, not only a great pitcher, but a great person.
“..Feller died at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday night of acute leukemia at a hospice, said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians vice president of public relations.
Remarkably fit until late in life, Feller had suffered serious health setbacks in recent months. He was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in August, and while undergoing chemotherapy, he fainted and his heart briefly stopped. Eventually, he underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted.
In November, he was hospitalized with pneumonia and Feller was recently released into hospice care.
Even as his health deteriorated, Feller continued doing what he loved most — attending Indians games deep into last season.
“Nobody lives forever and I’ve had a blessed life,” Feller said in September. “I’d like to stay on this side of the grass for as long as I can, though. I’d really like to see the Indians win a World Series.”…”
Feller was one of those players who give up part of his career in the service to his country.
“..On December 8, 1941, Feller enlisted in the Navy, volunteering immediately for combat service, becoming the first Major League Baseball player to do so following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7. Feller served as Gun Captain aboard the USS Alabama, and missed four seasons during his service in World War II, being decorated with five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars. His bunk is marked on the Alabama at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama. Feller is the only Chief Petty Officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame….”
Bob Feller was friends with my cousin’s grandparents. I grew up hearing tales about Bob Feller.
“…Feller was signed by scout Cy Slapnicka for $1 and an autographed baseball. Upon being made GM of the Indians, Slapnicka transferred Feller’s contract from Fargo-Moorhead to New Orleans to the majors without the pitcher so much as visiting either farm club, in clear violation of baseball rules. After a three-month investigation, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis made it clear that he did not believe what Slapnicka or Cleveland president Alva Bradley said, but awarded Feller to the Indians anyway, partly due to the testimony of Feller and his father, who wanted Bob to play for Cleveland.
Feller joined the Cleveland Indians without having played in the minors. He spent his entire career of 18 years with the Indians, being one of “The Big Four” Indians pitching rotation in the 1950s, along with Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia. He ended his career with 266 victories and 2,581 strikeouts, and led the American League in strikeouts seven times and bases on balls eight times. His fastball was nicknamed “the Van Meter Heater.” He pitched three no-hit games and shares the major league record with 12 one-hitters. Feller was the first pitcher to win 20 or more games before the age of 21. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility. When he was 17 years of age, he struck out 17 batters; he and Kerry Wood are the only two players ever to strike out their age (Wood struck out 20 on May 6, 1998).
On October 2, 1938, Feller set a modern major league record of 18 strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers. On Opening Day in the 1940 season, Feller pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox, with the help of a diving play on the final out by second baseman, Ray Mack. This is the only no-hitter to be thrown on Opening Day in major league history.
When asked if he threw harder than any other pitcher ever, Feller responded that at the end of his career, players who had batted against him and also against Nolan Ryan had said Feller threw harder than Ryan. If that was the case, Feller threw over 102 mph. There is footage of Feller being clocked by army ordnance equipment (used to measure artillery shell velocity) and hitting 98.6. However, this took place in the later years of his career, and the machine used, like most of the machines at the time, measured the speed of the ball as it crossed the plate whereas now the speed is measured as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Feller once mentioned that he was clocked at 104 mph at Lincoln Park in Chicago. He also threw the second fastest pitch ever officially recorded, at 107.6 mph, in a game in 1946 at Griffith Stadium.
When Feller retired in 1956, he held the major league record for most walks in a career (1,764), and for most hit batsmen. He still holds the 20th century record for most walks in a season (208 in 1938).
In 1943, Feller married Virginia Winther (1916–1981), daughter of a Wisconsin industrialist. They had three sons, Steve (b. 1945), Martin (b. 1947), and Bruce (b.1950). He lives with his wife, Anne Feller, in Gates Mills, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. In 2010, he threw out the 1st pitch at the Indians 1st home spring training game at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona….”