Baseball lost one of its greatest figures tonight when Rapid Robert, Bob Feller, passed away in Cleveland, Ohio.
His biography reads like a slice of Americana that Norman Rockwell would say “Oh come on… that’s too much.”
The farm boy from Iowa whose father builds him a baseball field.
The star pitcher who was signed for a dollar and a signed baseball.
Striking out 17 batters as a 17 year old.
Throwing harder than anyone had every thrown before.
And of course leaving the game in his prime (and stopping any chance at 300 wins) to serve in the Pacific Theater. As a Naval Officer on the USS Alabama he earned 8 Battle Stars in his four years in service.
And oh yeah, returned to baseball better than ever and did what must now seem impossible:
He led the Cleveland Indians to the World Series title.
He also barnstormed with black players before integration and pitched in Cuba. He pitched along side Satchel Paige when they were both in their primes. And later when Satchel was past his, they were teammates on the 1948 Indians.
Feller also was ahead of the curve in physical fitness and kept himself in terrific shape. And you could see it as he entered his 90s with all his faculties and able to throw out first pitches and reminisce in wonderful interviews.
He was a real American heirloom and one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
There weren’t many like him and now he is gone.
Rest in peace. You were an original.