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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 12/16/2010

Bob Feller dies at 92; Hall of Famer had wicked fastball

By T. Rees Shapiro

Bob Feller, a fireballing pitcher who broke into the big leagues as a 17-year-old sensation with the Cleveland Indians and was acclaimed as baseball's finest pitcher from the late 1930s to the late 1940s, died Wednesday night at a hospice near Cleveland. He was 92 and had leukemia.

Mr. Feller, who came out of the cornfields of Iowa in 1936 as a rawboned righthander who threw harder than anyone else of his era, rode his mighty fastball to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He was also a significant figure off the field, as the first major leaguer to volunteer for military service during World War II and the first president of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Mr. Feller's fastball was so extraordinary that there were repeated efforts to measure its precise speed. He once threw a pitch that easily overtook a motorcycle racing at 86 mph.

Another time, military equipment used to test projectiles was set up at Washington's Griffith Stadium, timing Mr. Feller's fastball between 98 and 107 mph.

By the time he retired in 1956, Mr. Feller had compiled a record of 266-162, with an ERA of 3.25. He led the American League seven times in strikeouts and six times in victories.

He pitched three no-hitters and a record 12 one-hit games.

Please leave your memories on Mr. Feller below.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | December 16, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Athletes, T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Baseball, Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians  
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The. Fastball.

Posted by: johngoldstone | December 16, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I grew up from childhood watching Mr. Feller pitch. My dad, who tried a stint in the minor leagues himself, said at that time that he was one of the greatest human beings there was. My dad never made any comparisons of his qualities to others because back then there were many, many decent admirable athletes. I guess it took a couple of generations to realize what decency and integrity really is. So long Bob. It's been a pleasure. And thanks for being a role model for me and my friends.

Posted by: hanley1 | December 16, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I must take a moment to remember Bob Feller. I taught his son Steve, and that was when I first met Bob. I had known of him, of course, and had seen him pitch a one-hitter in Cleveland as Sox catcher Sammy White hit a 6th-inning double (Herb Score struck out 16 Red Sox in the second game of that double header). In later years, I spoke with Feller again at each Old Timers' Game played at RFK Stadium. Just called out "Hey, Bob!" and he'd come over smiling, ready to chat.

His beginning was right out of mythology: a scout driving by sees a teen-age farm kid throwing at a target on the side of a barn in Van Meter, Iowa.

Even when he pitched (at 90) in a Old Timers' game recently in Cooperstown, he still used his large wind-up and high leg kick, reminding everyone of the 17-year-old kid who started his major league career by striking out more batters than most pitchers can fan in three or four games. Fans remember his no-hitters and many one-hitters, his well over 200 wins, his Opening Day no-hitter, his amazing number of K's. And we remember, too, that he served in the Navy for almost four years right at the prime of his baseball career. Said it was the thing he was most proud of. Take his yearly averages for his career, multiply by 4, and add them to his stats to see what a fantastic pitcher he was. Remember the famous duels: Feller vs. DiMaggio, Feller vs. Williams, Feller vs. Greenberg, Feller vs Hal Newhouser.

Bob was always open, friendly, up-beat, and very generous of his time with fans. He seemed to love talking with them. He also loved remembering how fine a son Steve was and that he had become architect who had designed Bob's house. He is a wonderful memory for me.

Posted by: sethtwiggs | December 17, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

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