Sunday, December 19

Bob Feller

I took a walk around my neighborhood in Downtown Cleveland today, which was enjoyable as always. My chief purpose was to put a dent in a well-earned hangover from trivia night at BW3 last night (today is a vacation day for me at work), but I also wanted to walk by the Cavs' and Indians' team shops and take a peek at Snow Days.

While I was there, I saw the tribute the Tribe set up to the recently departed club legend Bob Feller and thought I'd snap a few pictures. It was a nice little setup, with the banner you see at right, some decorations on his statue (below), and a tribute to his career accomplishments and military service. I decided maybe I should write a few words on the topic, in part to make sure our "Indians" tag is still functional.

I'm probably not the ideal guy to write about Bob Feller's career, inasmuch as his playing days ended 23 years before I even existed (and Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times covers it well in this piece, but I can add a couple of things.

I have a bit of a personal connection with Feller, for largely trivial reasons. For one, his name is Bob (my Dad's name) and one of his middle names is Andrew (my name). That's kinda cool. Feller is also almost certainly the best athlete ever to share November 3 as a birthday with me (and Charles Bronson). Apologies to George "Bird" Yardley (an NBA Hall of Famer), Tyler Hansbrough, Dewey Evans, Bronko Nagurski (an NFL and Great Name Hall of Famer), and Phil Simms. This was very important to him and is of great interest to you, I'm sure. Actually, it's kinda fun to see what famous players share your birthday, and easy enough to do with the various "Sports-Reference" websites. Coincidentally, both Nick and I share birthdays with an iconic Cleveland player who wore #19 (Nick's is, of course, Bernie Kosar). Figgs recently had a birthday, which I just discovered is the same as Tribe Hall of Famer Larry Doby and former Cavs star Phil Hubbard. So...there's that.

Feller's legacy with the generation(s) (I think we're a mix of Millennial and X) who write FCF is colored more than some might realize by his extended crusty-old-man phase. He reminded me of Robert Duvall in the old SNL sketch "Who's More Grizzled?" Having not seen him play, that's really what we know him by. Sure, we can look through his remarkable career numbers and appreciate how good (really good, it turns out) Feller was, but that's different than actually watching a guy play. But cranky as he may have been, Feller seemed like an honest fellow with integrity. I'm not one to be too rah-rah about the military, but his decision to leave baseball in his prime and volunteer for combat duty the day after Pearl Harbor is obviously commendable. There's no doubt he earned the right to be a little crochety. It's also remarkable how well he performed upon returning to baseball in 1946.

Hey, I didn't say this article had a point, just wanted to write a little bit about Cleveland's best pitcher.

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