Bob Feller signs autographs during the 2009 Legion Baseball
World Series banquet in Fargo, N.D.
Nicknamed “The Heater from Van Meter,” “Bullet Bob” and “Rapid Robert” because of his blazing fastball, Hall-of-Famer and American Legion Baseball icon Bob Feller passed away Wednesday evening (December 15) from a battle with Leukemia. He was 92.
Feller, a farm kid from rural Iowa, found his calling on the mound at age 13 while playing American Legion Baseball in Van Meter - a small town exactly 17 miles west of Des Moines, as he was known to note. It was here that he began a career that carried him to greatness in the nation’s pastime, earning eight all-star selections as a professional and eventually making it to Cooperstown in 1962 as a Hall of Famer.
In his golden years, he was a great ambassador to the game of baseball. In his younger years, he was fanning batters and hurling no-hitters in Legion Baseball leagues. He often recalled his days of playing Legion Baseball as the fondest of his life, saying the experience not only gave him a start as a baseball phenom but taught him how to form lifelong friendships, deal with letdowns in athletic competition and be discovered as a pitcher.
In 1936, Feller was discovered by scout Cy Slapnicka, who, as the legend goes, signed the 17-year-old to play for the Cleveland Indians for $1 and an autographed baseball. During his 18-season career with the Indians, Feller won 266 games and threw 2,581 strikeouts, crediting his arm strength from years of baling hay, picking corn and milking cows as a child on his family’s farm. Known as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Feller is the only major league player to pitch a no-hitter on an opening day, which he did in 1940 against the Chicago White Sox. Because it was the first game of the season, every opposing player left with same batting average (.000) they had when the game began - a trivia fact that Feller was known to use to stump baseball enthusiasts.
Just when his baseball career was in its prime, it came to an abrupt halt on Dec. 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The following day, Feller enlisted in the Navy - the first major league player to do so - and served as a gun captain on the USS Alabama for four years, earning five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars. After missing four seasons of baseball from serving in World War II, Feller made his comeback in 1946. Skeptics wondered if he could return to form. He emphatically proved them wrong, pitching 348 strikeouts and 10 shutouts in one of his best seasons as a pro. He went on to help the Indians win the World Series in 1948.
Though many speculate Feller may have earned more than 3,000 strikeouts in his career had he not left for war, the legendary Feller is still recognized as one of the game’s all-time great pitchers. In 1962, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., becoming the first American Legion Baseball alumni to be inducted. The Legion presented Feller with a plaque recognizing him as the first Legion Baseball graduate to achieve the remarkable feat, although Feller later mentioned he should be giving the Legion a plaque for giving him an opportunity to play organized ball.
Despite his active life, Feller remained a constant figure in Legion Baseball by attending many Legion World Series games and signing countless autographs free of charge. During the 2009 Legion World Series in Fargo, N.D., Feller spoke during the pregame banquet to Legion players and even, at the age of 91, threw out the first pitch in front of thousands of standing and applauding fans.
Because of his unending support, the Legion established the Bob Feller Pitching Award in 1978. The award is granted to a Legion player who earns the most strikeouts in a regional and national competition.
As the baseball fans remember a legendary player and a war hero, The American Legion calls to light his excellence on the field and off from an article that Feller wrote in June 1963 for the Legion Magazine.
USA Patriotism! recognizes David Griffith for his noble patriotic efforts!
David Griffith was severely wounded in Vietnam while serving his country with the Marines and now must rely on his wheelchair and walker for his mobility . . . and a computer terminal for his window on the world.
So, in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, David Griffith, ignoring his ongoing pain, started a patriotic tribute at his site, pouring out his love of country every day that includes writing poetry all intended to lift up our brave troops, encourage all Americans, and preventing our troops from being forgotten or scorned as was done during the Vietnam War.
Recently, from the confines of his home as a shut-in, he organized his fellow senior citizens having his medical attendant deliver them to the local post office for mailing at his own expense.
Moreover, David Griffith currently keeps in contact (by email and mail) with over 150 Marines in Iraq from his bedroom desk every month. His reply to why is . . . "I don't want these kids coming home to a cold and unforgiving country this time like we did from Vietnam." (His reason should ring true to all Americans.)
And while three bullet wounds in Vietnam ended David Griffith's active Marine role after 11 years and 5 months,. this true American patriot has remained a Marine at heart, breathing his love of the US Marine Corps everyday . . . and wishing that he could have served a full career as a Marine.
Semper Fi ... David Griffith for exemplifying love and pride of America as a Marine and your ongoing noble patriotic efforts!
I have visited this site and have been amazed at the amount of material that is presented here. There are innumerable music videos, NASA videos, personal experiences, etc. Truly a great site to visit and enjoy by all veterans and anyone who is patriotically inclined. Five stars is what I give it.
Just received this e-mail recently from our Oswego County Commander. I had to include it in my blog. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Delos Rowlee
I never made a you tube video before. But I recently had an experience that I recorded through my camera lens that I'd like to share with you.
I was at the NYC Veterans Day parade and I saw in the men and women who served our country an indelible grace that caused their faces to exude a radiance. A shining so evident, so beautiful, so deserving of our appreciation. And our love.
But it didn't end there.
The faces of the young and old who came to honor them, the faces of the marching bands who came to play for them, the faces of the toddlers who were so awed by them was evidence of an Amazing heart, an Amazing grace. I was moved by it. I was awed by it.
So I simply had to share it with all of you. I hope you get as much out of my humble camera effort as I did.
Love to all.
God bless America.
Photo: Peter Allen, Executive Director of Thank a Service Member presents a community "veterans appreciation poster" signed by the students of the Volney Elementary School to Joe Wallace, Commander of the American Legion Post 486 in Minetto
The December 7th ceremony, held at the American Legion Hall in Minetto, included a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute and the presentation of a special Thank a Service Member medallion which was given to the American Legion Members in honor of their service to our country. Thank a Service Member is an Oswego based, non-profit whose mission is to honor the service and support the needs of military veterans and their families. For more information contact Peter Allen at 315-402-5915 or visit the Thank a Service Member website at www.ThankaServiceMember.org
Peter Allen Executive Director
Thank a Service Member, Inc.
"Honoring Their Service | Supporting Their Needs"
391 W. 1st St. Box 1010
Oswego, NY 13126