Admist the seasonal stories of big trades like Carlos Zambrano to NY, tragic news has made headlines in the world of baseball as Hall of Fame baseball pitcher and probably the greatest Cleveland Indians player of all time Bob "Rapid Robert" Feller died on December 15, 2010, of complications from leukemia. He was in hospice at the Cleveland Clinic at the time of his death. Bob Feller lived to be 92 years old. During his playing career he was one of the game's most exciting players, from his debut at age 17 till the very end. He gave away the prime of his career to serve in the military and even in spite of missing four seasons, still ended up with some great career numbers.
Career of Bob Feller
In 1937 Bon Feller made his debut with the Cleveland Indians in the American League as a 17 year old who had never once pitched in the minors. He took the mound on that first day and struck out 15 batters. While still 17, he later set what was then an AL record by striking out 17 men in a game. Over the course or his career, Bob Feller put together some amazing statistics. His fastball was considered possibly the fastest of all time, although there wasn't the equipment back then to measure speeds that are in use today.
During his career Bob Feller threw three no hitters, including one on Opening Day in 1940, the first and still the only no hitter ever thrown on Opening Day in the major leagues. He also threw an astonishing twelve one hitters. By the end of his career he had amassed 266 wins, a number that would have been much higher had he not signed up for the U.S. Navy and served four years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He signed up for service on the day after the attack, becoming the very first major league baseball player to do so. He ended up missing four seasons due to his military commitment.
Upon his return to the Indians in 1946, Bob Feller was tremendous, as if he had never left the game. Some of his stats for that year are so ridiculous they are actually hard to believe. He struck out 348 batters that year and had 36 complete games, which is probably more incredible even than the strikeout total. Bob Feller was always ready to go when the season started because he stayed in shape in the offseason by barnstorming with some of the other big stars. His fitness year round was a precursor to what we see in today's athletes who don't have to go home to normal jobs in the offseason like most players did back when Bob Feller was playing.
Cleveland Indians Legend
Bob Feller was the greatest Cleveland Indian of all time. If he had not chosen to serve his country, he very likely would have won 350 games for his career. He served as a gun captain and put his life at peril voluntarily for four years even though by that time he was already recognized as one of the game's greats. These days, there are not too many athletes who would do what Bob Feller did when he served in World War II. Baseball fans and simple credit card car insurance customers could relate to athletes more back then because they seemed so much more like ordinary people. Bob Feller was kind of an ordinary guy, too, aside from his "heater from Van Meter" that supposedly rivaled the best of Nolan Ryan's fastballs. He is a Cleveland institution and a treasure to the game of baseball, and fans everywhere will miss Rapid Robert.