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by Vern Morrison, Digital Production Assistant , Michael Schwartz Library
If you ask any knowledgeable baseball fan to name the greatest player in Cleveland Indians history, you will always get the same response: Bob Feller. And rightly so.
Born in Van Meter, Iowa, Bob Feller made his major league debut on July 19, 1936 at the age of 17. His first starting assignment came on August 23 at League Park, against the St. Louis Browns. Feller went nine innings that day and struck out 15, as the Indians won 4-1. Later that same season, Feller went on to strike out 17 batters, thus becoming the first major league pitcher to strike out as many hitters in a game as his age. In 1938, Feller struck out 18 hitters in a game against the Detroit Tigers, setting the major league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. This record would not be surpassed until 31 years later.
Feller led the American League in pitching victories and strikeouts from1939 through 1941. In December of 1941, days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Feller enlisted in the U. S. Navy and volunteered for combat service. He served as gun captain aboard the USS Alabama until the end of World War II in 1945 and was decorated with five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars. Upon his discharge from the Navy, Feller went back to pitch for the Indians for the remainder of the 1945 season. In 1946, his first full season back in baseball, he again led the American League with 26 victories and a phenomenal 348 strikeouts.
Feller went on to pitch for the Indians through the 1956 season. He finished with career totals of 266 wins and 162 losses, and 2,581 strikeouts. He pitched three no-hitters, including one against the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day, 1940, and 12 one-hit games. He was selected as an All-Star eight times, and was the winning pitcher for the American League in the 1941 and 1946 games. In 1962, during his first year of eligibility, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Upon his retirement as a player, Feller kept living in the Greater Cleveland area, and worked in private industry as an insurance salesman and as a public relations specialist. He remained close to the Indians organization for the rest of his life, serving the club as a spring training pitching coach and a public relations spokesman. He would often don the Indians uniform for old-timers games and other events, and was fond of demonstrating his pitching ability for many years after his last big-league game. In June of 2009, at the age of 90, Feller pitched in the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic, an exhibition game at Cooperstown, New York.
During the last few months of his life, Feller suffered from various illnesses. He died of complications from leukemia on December 15, 2010, at the age of 92.
Bob Feller is immortalized in the form of a statue outside the gates of Progressive Field. More important, he left behind a permanent legacy as a pitcher, as a naval hero, and as an ambassador for baseball and for the Cleveland Indians. He will be remembered as long as the game of baseball is played.
As part of the archives of the Cleveland Press, the Cleveland Memory Project is proud to be able to present a collection of photographs of Bob Feller, featuring him throughout his life: as a child, as a member of the Indians, as a naval officer, and as a businessman. View these photographs.
Permanent link to this topic. Posted 2010-12-16 11:38:17. Reply to Lauren_Felder. Categories: Cleveland Memory.
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Richard Fox, Head of the Popular Library at Cleveland Public Library, will lead the book discussions in this series.The events are free and open to the public and begin at 3:00 p.m. Rhodes Tower, Room 503Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University1860 East 22nd Street
Little Bee by Chris CleaveFeb. 23, 2011From the author of the international bestseller Incendiary comes a haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers - one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London. "...immensely readable and moving ...While the pretext of Little Bee initially seems contrived - two strangers, a British woman and a Nigerian girl, meet on a lonely African beach and become inextricably bound through the horror imprinted on their encounter - its impact is hardly shallow. Rather than focusing on postcolonial guilt or African angst, Cleave uses his emotionally charged narrative to challenge his readers' conceptions of civility, of ethical choice" --New York Times.
The Lineby Olga Grushin March 30, 2011Grushin's stunning debut drew praise that placed her in the top rank of young literary voices. Now she returns with that rarity: a second novel even more dazzling than her first. The line: the universal symbol of scarcity and bureaucracy that exists wherever petty officials are let loose to abuse their powers. The line begins to form on the rumor that a famous exiled composer is returning to Moscow to conduct his last symphony. Tickets will be limited. Nameless faces join the line, jostling for preferred position. But as time passes and the seasons change and the ticket kiosk remains shuttered, these anonymous souls take on individual shape. Unlikely friendships are forged, long-buried memories spring to life, and a year-long wait is rewarded with unexpected acts of kindness that ease the bleakness of harshly lived lives.
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