Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Great "Fella"

I usually leave the baseball stories and statistics to AVI who knows far more about the game than I. But I did want to note this week’s passing of Hall of Famer, Bob Feller at 92 years of age. In 1936, as a high school junior, Mr. Feller signed with the Cleveland Indians for $1 and an autographed baseball (he never pitched in the minor leagues). By 1940, he was one of the highest-paid players in the game. Before he turned 23 in 1941, Feller - nicknamed "Rapid Robert" - had 107 victories and was well on his way to being one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history.

But two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Feller gave up his lucrative baseball career to join the war effort. He enlisted in the Navy and missed three full seasons and most of a fourth while serving as the chief of a gunnery crew aboard the battleship USS Alabama. He returned to baseball late in 1945, then recorded his finest all-around season in 1946, with 26 wins and his 36 complete games that year remain the highest total in baseball since 1916.

Throughout the ’40s, the Indians were a powerhouse, battling the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers for the American League pennant. Ted Williams once referred to Feller as “the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career.” Red Sox Nation members today could no doubt identify with Feller’s “I would rather beat the Yankees regularly than pitch a no-hit game.’’

Feller retired in 1956 and some say he could have attained even greater prominence in the game if he hadn’t made the detour for military service. But ever grounded, Feller’s only response to that conjecture, "You'll never hear me complain about my time in the service.” Baseball is insignificant when it comes to war."

Occasionally, in the chat leading up to launching their “Who’s on First” comedy routine, Abbott and Costello would drop Bob Feller’s name into the dialogue. But here, they performed a variation of the routine just focusing on Feller. A comedic, but great tribute to a notable American.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Never heard that one before. Thanks for posting.