At 9:15 pm on Wednesday, December 15th, baseball lost one of its greatest pitchers of all time. After struggling acute leukemia since August, Bob Feller passed away of pneumonia at the age of 92 in Cleveland, OH.
Feller was born in Van Meter, Iowa on November 3rd, 1918. Growing up, Feller only knew 2 things, farming and baseball. He picked up a baseball in his early teens and quickly developed a knack for the game. After hearing stories about a 16 year old kid in Iowa being able to throw lightning quick fastballs, a scout from the Cleveland Indians went to go pay Feller a visit. When that scout left the Feller Farm, Bob Feller was signed to the Cleveland Indians. He would completely bypass the minors and make his first start with the Indians at the age of 17. At the end of his rookie season, Feller left the team and went back to Iowa so he could graduate from high school.
Feller became the first player to eclipse 20 wins in a season before the age of 21 by racking up 24 wins in the 1939 season. He followed up that performance with a 27 win season in 1940 and a 25 win season in 1941. He also threw the only opening day no hitter in baseball history in 1940. After the Attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, Feller left the Indians to voluntarily join the Navy. He served 3 1/2 years in the Pacific before rejoining the Indians during the backend of 1945 season. In his first full season back with the team, Feller won 26 games and threw 36 complete games.
Over the course of his 18 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Feller threw 3 no hitters and 12 one hitters. He won a total of 266 games, and probably would have eclipsed 300 wins if he hadn’t missed almost 4 full seasons during WWII. Feller won 20 or more games in a season six times, he lead the league in strikeouts seven times and was an 8 time All-Star. He won a World Series Championship in 1948 when the Indians beat the Boston Braves. Feller’s #19 jersey was retired by the Indians in 1957, and he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 in his first year of eligibility. In 2010, at the young age of 91, Bob Feller threw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day for the Indians.
Rest in peace Rapid Robert.