16 December 2010

Bob Feller Dies at 92

I read an AP article in this morning's Gazette, telling about the death of Bob Feller. There are not many of these guys left. I mean those who were major league baseball players before December 7th, 1941; and then they became soldiers and sailors for the duration as I think they used to say in those days. For Feller that was four full seasons. According to Wikipedia, Bob Feller volunteered for the Navy on December 8th, 1941. He is the only Chief Petty Officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was one of my childhood heroes, that time when I dreamed even more than I do now. He liked to barnstorm during the off-season. And after his 18 full seasons for the Cleveland Indians, approaching 80 years some time in the 90s I'm guessing, he stopped in Billings at Cobb Field to sell a few souvenirs. I have a signed picture from that time. I think it cost me $10. In addition to being a ballplayer, Feller was also a good businessman. As he was signing, I mentioned that the last time I had seen him in person was sometime in July 1952. I was high in the upper deck of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, the guest of a successful Ohio cheesemaker uncle who was an Indian fan. Feller was on the mound pitching against the Yankees' Allie Reynolds. He interrupted me, saying he remembered it well: it wasn't 1952, but July 12, 1951. He knew the exact date. Reynolds pitched the first of his two no-hitters that season while Feller pitched a one-hitter—one of 12 he pitched in his career. Unfortunately that one hit was a home run by Gene Woodling. I've forgotten whoever Feller told me the Indians' left fielder was at the time, but he remembered the name, and he was certain he should have caught the ball before it went out of the park.

Feller died from some form of leukemia. RIP.

See my other blog for a picture of the Heater from Van Meter in his prime.

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