One of the greatest pitchers ever and one of the last links with the fabulous era of the 1930s in baseball is gone:
Teenage pitching sensation, World War II hero, outspoken Hall of Famer and local sports treasure. Bob Feller was all of them.
One of a kind, he was an American original.
Blessed with a right arm that earned the Iowa farmboy the nickname “Rapid Robert” and made him one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Feller, who left baseball in the prime of his career to fight for his country, died Wednesday night. He was 92.
Feller was part of a vaunted Indians’ rotation in the 1940s and ’50s with fellow Hall of Famers Bob Lemon and Early Wynn. He finished with 2,581 career strikeouts, led the American League in strikeouts seven times, pitched three no-hitters—including the only one on opening day—and recorded a jaw-dropping 12 one-hitters.
The first pitcher to win 20 games before he was 21, Feller was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
An eight-time All-Star, Feller compiled statistics from 1936 through 1956 that guaranteed his Hall of Fame enshrinement. He led the AL in victories six times and is still the Indians’ career leader in shutouts (46), innings pitched (3,827), walks (1,764), complete games (279), wins and strikeouts.
On top of all that, Feller was the first major league player to enlist in the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, joining on December 8, 1941 and serving with distinction on the USS Alabama. He was an irascible, opinionated old coot who didn’t think much of a lot of today’s players, especially coddled pitchers, who I loved to listen to. He will be sorely missed.