Blog Entry

Bob Feller passes

Posted on: December 15, 2010 10:16 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 10:56 pm
Feller Bob Feller has passed due to acute leukemia, leaving baseball without one of the best pitchers of the middle-20th century, Keith Murphy of WHO TV in Des Moines reports.

The confirmed passing of Feller occurred at 9:15 p.m. EST in a hospice.

The right-hander had a career that saw him win 266 games with a 3.25 ERA -- and that's with a three-year interruption from ages 23-25 due to war. Imagine what Feller could have done with those three years (plus a full season in 1945, when he made only nine starts). Given Feller won 24, 27 and 25 games prior to his departure and then 26 and 20 his two full years back, he would have had at least 20 wins per year, right? Give him 75 more wins (given he won five in 1945's nine starts) and you're looking at someone with at least 341.

At least. Hard to imagine he doesn't end up with at least 350. This was a man who was one of the best right-handed pitchers in the game, and has a case to be top five all-time.

Feller was an ironman, leading baseball five times in innings pitched from 1939-1941 and 1946-47. His six-year span (including those nine starts in 1945) gave him a 2.68 ERA in 200 starts (with another 25 out of the bullpen) with 1,370 strikeouts and an ERA+ of 144, meaning he was 44 percent above average. Heck, he even added 14 saves to those totals.

Feller led baseball in punchouts seven times, with his career high as 348 in 371 1/3 innings for the 1946 Indians. Feller was part of the 1948 squad that won a World Series, which remains the last time the tortured souls in Ohio have won it all. He would also go on to be a member of the AL pennant-winning 1954 squad and played 18 seasons overall, all with Cleveland.

The Iowa native's career 2,581 strikeouts places him 26th on the all-time list. His career Wins Above Replacement is 66, placing him 19th on the right-handed pitchers list of those with at least 2,000 innings pitched. For comparison, Curt Schilling barely beats him out.

But there's a reason Feller is in the Hall and Schilling figures to have an uphill battle: Feller's missed seasons due to war. WAR (no pun intended) is cumulative, so if you assume at least a 7 WAR (like the wins, this is conservative) for each of the missed seasons, Feller rises to top-five territory in the company of Phil Niekro and Greg Maddux.

Feller was so well regarded that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 93.3 percent of the vote in his first-year of eligibility. Nicknamed Bullet Bob and Rapid Robert, Feller had held the title of longest-tenured living Hall of Famer prior to his death.

Oh, and about that military service? Feller was the first MLB player to volunteer for service immediately after the Pearl Harbor bombing and served aboard the USS Alabama , earning eight battle stars, and Feller is the only Chief Petty Officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Feller's claim to fame comes from his heater, which was one of the best in the history of the game at that point. In fact, a school of thought believes that Feller threw harder than Nolan Ryan, which is hard to believe. There is evidence that Feller threw 98.6 mph at the tail-end of his career, although the velocity was clocked as passing the plate, not coming out of his hand as common measurements do so. He is the owner of the second-fastest pitch recorded at 107.6 mph in 1946. Nolan Ryan was measured at 108.1 in 1974.

The wins... the WAR... the innings pitched... the time away defending the country... the strikeouts... all show that Bob Feller belongs in the conversation for best right-handed starter ever.

Baseball has lost a legend. Condolences to his family and friends.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB

Since: Sep 8, 2008
Posted on: December 16, 2010 6:44 am

Bob Feller passes

Given the mlb time he missed--3-2/3 seasons serving in the Navy in WWII--clearly his stastistics rate him as a top 3- 5 all time SP- Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Bob Feller. Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn (steroid Clemens must be excluded ; Satchel Paige might perhaps belong as 5a on this list but it is unfortunately impossible to fully judge). If you review the anectodal descriptions of his pitching by players and observers of his era, even more weight is given to his top 5 position. Note that he pitched in the bigs @ 17 --missed 3 years in his prime-- and returned as a HOF quality hurler. I believe that there were some sheninangans in his original signing (as an undeage minor) and that it was in fact ruled that his first signing was void and hence he was a coveted  amateur free agent-- in 1936! . His father had him stick to his original deal though. A true legend. Iowa teen mows down major league hitters--befor ehe even graduated from high school!

In the upper pantheon. Like Ted Williams his post career life enhanced his place in the game. Always at the Hall ceremonies - a revered grandsfather of the modern game . Vocal and opionated . A real character and a real baseball hero. RIP Rapid Robert.

Since: Dec 22, 2007
Posted on: December 16, 2010 6:23 am

Bob Feller passes

I knew this was coming, but still can't believe it. I can't thinkk of anyone else that has represented our city of Cleveland with such class and civility. To us in Cleveland, he was more than a ballplayer. He was proud to call Cleveland home and carried himself in manner that gave us reason to be proud too. For years he attended the Cleveland Indians Fantasy Baseball camp in Arizona each Spring. Can you imagine the thrill of *Joe Putz* going up against Bob Feller!! 
Joining the Navy after Pearl Harbor....right I'll say it, I wouldn't have the guts. With no disrespect to the author, you neverheard Mr. Feller complain about the time *lost* from his MLB career while serving aboard the Alabama. He never played the *what if* card.....330 plus wins, 3500 K.......because he just wasn't that kind of man. I got his autograph once at a convention center downtown. It was an organized event with many famous atheletes present and you would have to buy a ticket to get an autograph. Wille Mays was was Muhammed Ali. Mr. Feller's line was the longest. Why? Because I think he charged the lowest price for his autograph...I can't remember for sure, but, I think it was a ridiculous amount like $10. Anyway, when it got to be my turn, I handed him a baseball to sign. I couldn't say word I was so nervous. He looked right into my eyes and could see that...and he said "What's your name young man?" I could barely spit the answer out, but, I managed.."Mike". "Well Mike, it's nice to meet you. I think the Indians have a good chance of having a fine year. Maybe I'll see you at the ballpark"......I just about died. And this is no lie....I also got Wille Mays' autograph that day...when you got to his had to hand the ball to his *handler*...who would hand the ball to Mr. Mays...he would sign it...hand it back to his handler...who would hand it back to you. Mr. Mays wouldn't even look at you. Maybe Willie was having a bad day or something, but, I've never forgotton that day and what a gentleman Bob Feller was to me.
Thank you Bob Feller

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: December 16, 2010 12:48 am

Bob Feller passes

God will bless him.Bob was one of the true hero's of our time.He will be missed by all the baseball gods and by the people who loved him so much.My father used to talk to me about great pitchers in his generation, and it was always Bob Feller he was talking about.My father saw him pitch in Cleveland and also in the war while stationed in Hawaai. 
Bob was One of the greats!!
Bob..I do hope you and my father are somewhere talking about baseball, women and other things they had in common when they met in Hawaai.
I'll miss both of you very much.

Since: Sep 23, 2006
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:27 pm

Bob Feller passes

Not just a great pitcher..but a great American.  We owe so much to these tough dudes who served our country during WWII.  RIP Bob.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:20 pm

Bob Feller passes

God Bless, big man. Went to a series at Fenway when I was a tyke, think the Indians had Feller, Garcia, Lemon and Wynn? A pretty fair foursome. RIP Bob.

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: December 15, 2010 10:34 pm

Bob Feller passes

Grew up in awe when reading of his dominance. He gave up his best playing years serving his country- definitely part of the greatest generation, the likes of which we won't see anytime soon. RIP Mr. Feller.

Since: Mar 10, 2007
Posted on: December 15, 2010 10:26 pm

Bob Feller passes

RIP, one of the last winners for the city of Cleveland.

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