RIP Bob Feller, 1918-2010

16 12 2010

Former Cleveland Indians great Bob “Rapid Robert” Feller passed away last night at the age of 92. The saying is that these things seem to come in 3’s – fellow Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson a month ago and (hopefully future HOF-er) Ron Santo a few weeks ago. It’s certainly a sad day for baseball, for Feller was a great ambassador, even past the age of 90, even after he’d outlived most of the fans who grew up watching him.

Feller had the no-hitter and single season K records before Sandy Koufax and then Nolan Ryan passed him. Well before Wayne Gretzky, Dwight Gooden, or Lebron James, Feller was the first teenage sports prodigy – I believe he is the only pitcher ever who struck out as many hitters as his age** (17 in 1936).

Behind Ted Williams, Feller is often cited as the player who lost the most statistically to time in the war. They both started their careers at the end of the 1930’s, and served in WWII and the Korean War. Like Williams, you can’t discuss his career exploits without soon pointing out that he was a decorated veteran.

There are a lot of tributes out there already; the Cleveland Plain Dealer has some of the best. My only memory of seeing him was when I went to Cooperstown two years ago. He was the oldest player there by far, and I remember being shocked at how energetic he looked for someone who had just turned 90.

**After doing a little more research, I have to correct myself here. Kerry Wood was 20 years old when he struck out 20 in 1998. So 2 players have done that in their career. It’s interesting – K-ing 20 at age 20 is impressive for different reasons than punching out 17 as a high school junior. Both are remarkable accomplishments.


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