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  • Bob Feller Article

    (ps: check out the link www.bobfellermuseum.org)
    I appologize in advance if this is already posted, but I saw this tonight and thought it might stir a little interest with insights of Bob Feller and his perspective of some greats we have only read about. From Cy Young to pitching against Lou Gerhig back in the day. Here goes:

    Pitching great Bob Feller has fond memories of many Hall of Famers: right-hander who won 266 games in a career that spanned 18 seasons recalls some of the majors' best performers
    Baseball Digest, July, 2005 by John McMurray



    DURING A AN 18-YEAR HALL OF FAME CAREER THAT SPANNED FROM 1936 TO 11956, Bob Feller had the opportunity to see or know the vast majority of players in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Feller, who will be 87 years old on November 3, 2005, has himself been a member of the Hall of Fame since 1962, longer than any living player. He continues to make many public appearances for the Cleveland Indians, and he has a vote on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee. Here, Feller offers his reflections on some early century players and on some former Cleveland Indians teammates:

    On Cy Young: "I knew Cy Young quite well. He used to come to a lot of the games at League Park and also at Municipal Stadium. I had a lot of pictures taken with him ,and sat and visited with him. I admired him because he never criticized the current players during my time and he never said the old-timers were better or went into that pitch which sometimes you hear from the fellows of my time about the present day players. He never complained about the present players during my career.

    Cy Young never offered any unsolicited advice (on pitching), or if you ever asked him, he never had any comments about how to do this or how to do that. The main thing, of course, everybody knows is to throw a strike. That's no secret.

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    I knew him from some social functions. I attended his funeral, right near Newcomerstown, Ohio. I went down there and went to his funeral services and to the cemetery. Cy, of course, pitched the dead ball, and he could throw 60 to 80 pitches in those days and pitch a complete game. The ball wasn't going to go anywhere. Very rarely would players hit home runs. So it was a matter of just throwing the ball over the plate. You didn't have to throw a hundred and thirty or forty pitches to complete a game, or anything near over a hundred."

    On Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson: "I first met Ty Cobb in Atlanta in 1937 when I pitched a game against Carl Hubbell in old Ponce DeLeon Park in Atlanta. After watching me pitch, Cobb said: 'Well, the kid's pretty fast. I'd probably have to hit him to left!' I met Walter Johnson in Washington. He was with Clark Griffith, and he said 'I think I can throw a mite harder than you can.' Of course, Walter did not have a curveball. He was a one-pitch pitcher. He threw fastballs by most of the hitters. Of course you can't throw it by everybody, but, as far as I'm concerned, he was the greatest right-handed pitcher who ever lived."

    On Babe Ruth Day, June 13, 1948 at Yankee Stadium, when terminally ill Ruth used Feller's bat to keep his balance while speaking: "That bat is in my museum right now in Van Meter, Iowa. I got that bat back. It took a long time to get it, but I got it back. One of my teammates took it and hid it after Babe signed it, and then I bought it back from a fellow that won it in a contest after (collector) Barry Halper sold all his memorabilia.

    Babe came walking out of the runway. He was dying of throat cancer. He was very feeble. He probably only weighed about 145 to 150 pounds. He reached in the bat rack there in the third base dugout, which was our dugout, the visiting team dugout. He grabbed a bat at random to use for a cane and to lean on. And, as a coincidence, it was my bat. He had no idea whose bat it was. I was warming up to pitch the ballgame, and he just took that bat and leaned on it. One of my teammates had (Ruth) sign it, and that teammate put it away and hid it. And then the bat came back to me later by way of Barry Halper, who bought it from my teammate. (Halper) auctioned it off, then Upper Deck ran a contest, and this guy from Seattle won it. I bought it back for my museum from this man in Seattle, Washington."

    On Tris Speaker and others: "Tris Speaker did some P.R. for the Indians (while Feller was playing). He did some public relations in Florida as well as over in New Orleans. He was on our staff out there in Tucson, the first year we were out there. I've got a picture of him and Rogers Hornsby, who was our batting coach in 1947. Hornsby, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb, and I, we were visiting one time out there.

    "Ty was on vacation, being out there at the Arizona Inn in Tucson and we got together and had a picture taken. I had a uniform on, the rest of them were in street clothes. I knew most all the old-timers.

    "Larry Lajoie used to be hanging around the golf course down there in Lakewood, Florida when I went down there with my dad and mother and played golf with my dad and Cy Slapnicka, the scout that signed me. Lajoie was a pleasant person. He was quiet, and I remember that he had large hands."

    On Lou Gehrig: "I pitched against Gehrig. I knew his doctor--Dr. (Paul) O'Leary at Mayo Clinic--three years before he ever met him. My father was going to the Mayo Clinic for brain cancer treatment and I got to meet all the doctors up there, and Dr. O'Leary was one of them. Dr. O'Leary did not work on my father, though, but I did know him. That was in 1936, and Gehrig got there in May 1939. I pitched to Lou for two-and-a-half years. He was not a great curveball hitter. He was a great fastball hitter, and he was a highball hitter. I threw him a lot of overhand curveballs. He was a very quiet person. I knew his wife Eleanor, too. Of course, I knew Claire Ruth, also. I used to go with the two of them after their husbands had died to different functions, to Babe Ruth League activities usually."

    On Satchel Paige: "Satchel was in the top five or ten pitchers in history in the big leagues. Satchel had very good control. He didn't have much of a curveball, but he had perfect control. He threw very hard. His pitches were very sneaky. He had great rhythm and great coordination. He had a very good change of speed. He was very sneaky with his fastball: it would be past you before you even knew he was throwing it. He could pitch all day-he had a great rubber arm."

    On Larry Doby: "Larry Doby came up in 1947 as a second baseman before he went to center field. He could run and he had a lot of power. He was a good outfielder with a very good arm. I wouldn't say it was as good as (Rocky) Colavito's or (Joe) DiMaggio's, but he had a good strong arm. He could cover a lot of ground. He was a very good hitter with quite a bit of power. He was a conscientious, outstanding player."

    On Lou Boudreau: "Boudreau was a very good manager and a very good player. He was afraid of no pitcher. He was a great clutch hitter. He was slow afoot, but he was in front of all the balls. He got a good jump on the pitch-he watched the pitch very closely when the pitcher released it to get an idea of where the hitter was going to hit the ball. He could go to his right and to his left, and he had a strong arm, very accurate. He was a good teammate, a good friend, a good person, a good father.

    "Lou was a good all-around man. A great basketball player, a great athlete who loved the game. He was honest, truthful, and smart. I attended his funeral in Frankfort, Illinois with my sister Marguerite."

    On Mel Harder: "Mel Harder was a very good friend of mine. He was a very good pitching coach, and a great pitcher himself. The same scout, Cy Slapnicka, that signed him signed me. He got him in 1928 when he was pitching for Dubuque, Iowa. Mel was from a little town near Omaha: Beemer, Nebraska.

    "He was a great sinkerball pitcher, a good curveball pitcher, and he had good control. He was highly respected by all the people in the Cleveland area and all over baseball. I don't think he had an enemy on earth. A great gentleman, a very good coach, and a great pitcher. Mel is a person who should be considered for the Hall of Fame, and whether he gets in or not, I have no idea. I would hope he does someday, but I only have one vote for all these players that are under consideration."

    On whether he expects anyone to match his feat of throwing the only Opening Day no-hitter, which he did in 1940: "Probably somebody will someday. Sooner or later, it'll happen sometime, no doubt. You pitch so many innings, you don't allow a hit, you get nine of them in a row, you've got a no-hitter.

    "So somebody probably will do it again sometime. I'd just as soon keep the record, but if somebody ties it, he'd have my congratulations."

    (Note: Information about the Babe Ruth bat and the Bob Feller museum can be found at www.bobfellermuseum.org.)
    Johnny
    Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

  • #2
    That was an interesting read! Feller sure is a bridge to the deadball days to now.
    Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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    • #3
      Rapid Robert is one of my all time favorite players. A great pitcher and tremendous American who is still an ambassador for baseball even in his later years. Easily a 300 game winner w/o military service.
      "There ain't much to bein' a ballplayer...if you're a ballplayer. "

      --Honus Wagner

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 85cards
        Rapid Robert is one of my all time favorite players. A great pitcher and tremendous American who is still an ambassador for baseball even in his later years. Easily a 300 game winner w/o military service.
        A little more on Feller at the end of this "250 to 299 wins" thread:
        http://baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=38509
        Luke

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        • #5
          many thanx, johnny.
          "you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. just get people to stop reading them." -ray bradbury

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          • #6
            I saw Feller pitch a few times when the Indians came to Comiskey Park. He totally dominated the White Sox in those days.

            I met Feller at Mavericks Stadium (Class A, Cal League) in 1994. We had the opportunity to talk for a while, and he holds the same opinion of today's players that I do. Their greed, and the owner's stupidity, are ruining the game.

            Bob

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