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Posted at 8:31 AM ET, 12/16/2010

Bob Feller on Stephen Strasburg's style and hype

By Cindy Boren

One of those watching Stephen Strasburg pitch last summer with the Washington Nationals was Bob Feller, the Cleveland Indians' Hall of Famer who died Wednesday.

Feller, never known for mincing his words, bluntly evaluated Strasburg and his team as he watched Strasburg strike out eight and give up two hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Indians in Cleveland in early June: "I think he's done very well; of course this is not the 1927 Yankees either. Or the Cleveland Indians of 1948."

Strasburg's season, of course, ended prematurely. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

"He has a good career coming up," Feller said back in June. "I understand he's very affable, but very quiet and is very conscientious. He'll be probably tougher for right-hand hitters than left-hand hitters. He loses about two or three miles per hour on his fastball with men on base, I noticed that on the radar. But that's typical. That's not unusual at all."

Strasburg was 21 the day of his major league debut. Feller had five years' major-league experience at that point in his life.

"[Strasburg] has a good changeup," Feller said. "I never used my changeup to anybody, only left-hand hitters. But he has a decent change-up. His curveball breaks more than the average curveball. His slider is part of his repertoire, which is a good pitch to left-hand hitters, keep it on their fists.

"But he'll have a half-dozen or so hitters he won't be able to get out. Like me. We all have half-a-dozen or a dozen hitters who, no matter what you do, seem like they know what you're going to do and get their base hits."

Feller was no stranger to hype. "If you start believing all that hype and attention, that's the end of your career," Feller said. "You can't believe all that. It's 24-7 now on hype. Twenty-four-seven. But there's nothing wrong with that. All sports are show business now. Nothing wrong with it. The game itself in all sports is almost incidental to what goes on around it, in merchandising. It's a different world.

"He better not believe everything he reads about himself. If I had a bad day I would read about it. If I had a good day, I'd save the clipping."

By Cindy Boren  | December 16, 2010; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  Nationals  
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Comments

Feller was one of the great ones ... can't believe he made his MLB debut at 16! Hope he's right about SS. RIP Bob Feller.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 16, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I had the privilege of seeing Feller pitch just before WWII. My classmates and I had front row seats on the third base line at Griffith Stadium...and we were wowed. His fast ball was so fast you could not see it...at least from that angle, it was just a blur. Never forgot it.

Posted by: tedstod | December 16, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I remember coming out of WWII, Bob Feller rejoined the Indians and pitched against the Senators at Griffith Stadium. With much hullabaloo, they brought out a new fangled RADAR that was to measure the speed of Feller's fastball. It was a picture frame contraption, not at all like today's radar guns. Feller threw one pitch through it at about 98 mph. The next pitch hit the frame and shattered it, putting the whole machine out of commission. I never did hear about the speed of his best in his prime. Perhaps it's recorded somewhere.

Posted by: jackalmac | December 16, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Bob Feller was a great pitcher but did not have 5 years of experience at age 21. He did start at age 17 and 8 months. He was born on November 3, 1918 and his major league debut was July 19, 1936 with Cleveland. The Indians signed him as an amateur free agent in 1936. Imagine a team signing a future HOF today as a free agent.

Posted by: johnefitzpatrick | December 17, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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