Hall of Famer Bob Feller passed away at the age of 92. I met Feller a few years back and got an autographed baseball. Unfortunately, Feller signed in felt-point, not ball-point and you can guess what happened. Faded away. Sigh. I did thank him for his military service.
Feller won 266 games, all with the Indians, 1936-1941 and 1945-1956. He missed 3 2/3 years due to WWII, when he was with the Navy fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific.
Look at his stats (click the link) from 1939-1947 and consider those years he missed.
Feller was only 17 when he reached the majors. An 8x All-Star, he finished 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in MVP voting in 1939, 1940 and 1941. He finished top-10 in 1946, 1947 and 1951. Six times he was a 20-game winner, including seasons of 24-27-25 (1939-1941) and 26 wins (1946). Six times he led the AL in wins (3x all of MLB). He led the AL in ERA once. Games pitched AL 3x (MLB 1x). Games started 5x (MLB 4x). CG 3x (MLB 2x). 44 career shutouts. He led the AL in shutouts 4x (MLB 1x). 5x he led the AL in IP, the majors 4x. Three times he pitched over 300 innings in a season, including 371 1/3 in 1946! 4x he led the majors in walks. “Rapid Robert” was said to hit 98 with his fastball, but it’s unknown how high he actually hit, given the rudimentary measuring devices of his day. Many thought he was the fastest since Walter Johnson. Seven times he led the majors in strikeouts, and he had the record of 348 from 1946 to 1965 when Sandy Koufax topped it (Nolan Ryan broke that in 1973). I could go on, but you get the picture.
Before he turned 18, he had a 15 and a 17 strikeout game. For many years, he had the record of 18 strikeouts in a game (it is now 20).
Most players who lost significant time during WWII lost 1943-1945, as did Rizzuto, Williams and DiMaggio. He lost all of 1942-1944 and most of 1945. Since he won 24 games in 1939, 27 games in 1940 and 25 in 1941, if we give him 75 wins for 1942-1944 and another 20 for 1945, those 95 wins would take him from 266 career wins to 361.
In 1945, the war ended in time for him to come home and start 9 games. After some 3 2/3 to 3 3/4 years away, he went 5-3, 2.50.
In his first game back in the majors in almost four years, 8/24/45 (shortly after the atomic bombings of Japan—Feller was in the Navy in the South Pacific, fighting on the U.S.S. Alabama), Feller pitched a complete game victory, 2 R, 4 H and 12 K. It was his first MLB game since 9/26/41. He had enlisted in the Navy the day after the Pearl Harbor attack.
Feller threw three no-hitters, one on Opening Day (I earlier said 1946, it was 1940 (sorry), and the only Opening Day no-no in major league history to date), and twelve one-hitters.
In postseason play, he went 0-2, 5.02 in the 1948 WS. His non-pickoff of Phil Masi is still considered a controversial call. Most thought Masi was picked off by Feller in Game 1 of the 1948 Series. He wasn’t (he was on second) and he scored moments later. Feller lost that game to Johnny Sain 1-0. The Indians did win that series, which was Feller’s only WS win and the Indians last to date. Feller didn’t pitch in the 1954 Series that the Indians were swept in, despite going 13-3 that year.
For his career, 266-162, 3.25 ERA. ERA+ 122. 2581 K. WWII probably stole some 980 K from him. If so, then he could have wound up with say, 361 wins and 3500 K. As a hitter Feller hit .151 with 8 HR.
He won the triple crown of pitching in 1940 (K, W, ERA) when he was just 21. He was elected to the HOF in 1962.
If you read that he was the oldest living HOFer, don’t believe it. Bobby Doerr is still alive and he is the oldest HOFer. Doerr was born seven months before Feller.
Feller’s #19 is retired by the Indians.
One of the all-time greats.
A little history. In 1992 the Yanks were after Greg Maddux, but he spurned a 5-year $34MM offer from the Yanks to go to the Braves for $28MM. The Yanks got Jimmy Key to shore up the rotation instead. In game 6 of the 1996 WS, Maddux loses to the Yanks (he won Game 2) and the Yanks wrap up the Series. Who does he lose to? Jimmy Key. (Maddux also lost to the Yanks in the 1999 WS. He did pitch well in all three games he faced them. The 3-2 loss in game 6, 1996. In the 1999 game, 2 of the 4 runs he gave up were unearned).
Yankees news on LoHud:
SWB coaching staff remains Miley, Wynegar, Aldred. Frank Menechino joins as infield coach. Tony Franklin (underrated mgr.) back at AA Trenton.
They also report that Don Zimmer, 79, had a pacemaker installed. Get well, Zim.