Hall of Fame: Bob Feller (1962)

He may be controversial, but he was one of the best pitchers of all-time.

Year Team     G  GS  CG SHO  GF  SV   IP      H   BFP  HR    R   ER   BB   SO  SH  WP HBP  BK   W   L   ERA
1936 CLE A 14 8 5 0 5 1 62 52 279 1 29 23 47 76 1 8 4 3 5 3 3.34
1937 CLE A 26 19 9 0 4 1 148.2 116 651 4 68 56 106 150 12 5 2 2 9 7 3.39
1938 CLE A 39 36 20 2 3 1 277.2 225 1248 13 136 126 208 240 11 5 7 1 17 11 4.08
1939 CLE A 39 35 24 4 3 1 296.2 227 1243 13 105 94 142 246 17 14 3 1 24 9 2.85
1940 CLE A 43 37 31 4 5 4 320.1 245 1304 13 102 93 118 261 13 8 5 0 27 11 2.61
1941 CLE A 44 40 28 6 4 2 343 284 1466 15 129 120 194 260 13 6 5 0 25 13 3.15
1945 CLE A 9 9 7 1 0 0 72 50 300 1 21 20 35 59 3 1 2 0 5 3 2.50
1946 CLE A 48 42 36 10 5 4 371.1 277 1512 11 101 90 153 348 25 3 3 0 26 15 2.18
1947 CLE A 42 37 20 5 4 3 299 230 1218 17 97 89 127 196 15 7 4 2 20 11 2.68
1948 CLE A 44 38 18 2 3 3 280.1 255 1186 20 123 111 116 164 11 2 2 0 19 15 3.56
1949 CLE A 36 28 15 0 6 0 211 198 894 18 104 88 84 108 9 3 1 1 15 14 3.75
1950 CLE A 35 34 16 3 0 0 247 230 1055 20 105 94 103 119 14 3 5 0 16 11 3.43
1951 CLE A 33 32 16 4 1 0 249.2 239 1061 22 105 97 95 111 13 2 7 0 22 8 3.50
1952 CLE A 30 30 11 0 0 0 191.2 219 869 13 124 101 83 81 22 1 3 1 9 13 4.74
1953 CLE A 25 25 10 1 0 0 175.2 163 721 16 78 70 60 60 8 1 3 1 10 7 3.59
1954 CLE A 19 19 9 1 0 0 140 127 580 13 53 48 39 59 2 0 3 0 13 3 3.09
1955 CLE A 25 11 2 1 4 0 83 71 340 7 43 32 31 25 2 0 1 0 4 4 3.47
1956 CLE A 19 4 2 0 5 1 58 63 253 7 34 32 23 18 3 0 0 1 0 4 4.97
Total(18 y) 570 484 279 44 52 21 3827 3271 16180 224 1557 1384 1764 2581 194 69 60 13 266 162 3.25

8 All-Star Games (1938-1941, 1946-1948, 1950)

Robert William Andrew Feller was born on November 3, 1918 in Van Meter, Iowa. The son of a farmer and avid baseball fan, Feller grew up doing farm chores, but he also had a healthy love for the game of baseball. His father would create a “field of dreams” on their farm, but it was a full stadium with seats and a scoreboard. Bill Feller, Bob’s father, recruited people to play, and his son was the star. The younger Feller went on to play for his high school, where he became a local sensation. Scout Cy Slapnicka signed the young flamethrower for $1 and an autographed baseball.

But like many things in regard to Feller, his career began in controversy. Slapnicka was made GM of the Indians before Feller ever played a minor-league game, and Slapnicka transferred Feller’s contract through some minor-league teams before bringing him up. This broke league rules, and Kenesaw Landis was on it. However, he awarded Feller to the Indians after testimony from Feller and his father substantiated Slapnicka’s claimes, but Landis never really believed them. In his first major-league start in 1936, he struck out 15 St. Louis Browns, and not too long after, he struck out 17 Philadelphia Athletics (both of which were the worst teams in the AL that season, but it was still impressive). Feller’s arm was legendary from the beginning, and he did nothing to keep it from growing. He pitched his entire career with Cleveland. He won 266 games, and he may have won more if World War II hadn’t taken 4 years from him (Feller was legendary even on the battlefield as he won 8 battle stars and 5 campaign ribbons). In addition, Feller led the league in wins and strikeouts 6 times, though he also led it 4 times in walks (he was notoriously wild, making comparisons to Nolan Ryan acceptable), but he only led the league in ERA once.

There’s an interesting story about Feller’s arm. Supposedly, he learned how to throw by throwing against his barn in Iowa, and all the farmwork made him very strong. Some people believe he has thrown the hardest fastball ever, even better than Nolan Ryan’s. Nolan Ryan hit 102 on the radar gun, but some players who hit against both said that Feller threw harder. Now, you really have to take that with a grain of salt — Feller could have been more deceptive, etc. –, but that would mean that Feller threw at least 103. One day, someone brought Feller to some army equipment designed to measure the velocity of artillery shells, but he only threw 98. However, that was at the end of his career, and there were a couple instances where radar guns read 104 and 107 earlier in his career. Can you believe it? Regardless of how fast it actually went, it’s interesting to note that Feller usually gives credit to his curveball and slider for all those strikeouts.

By 1951, Feller’s career was winding down, but his 22-win 1951 was still very impressive. His ERA jumped more than a point the next season to 4.74, and he became an effective spot-starter for the next 3 seasons. At age 37 in 1956, his arm had enough. Five years later in 1962, he became the first player since Walter Johnson to be elected in his first year of eligibility, and he was the first player voted in by the BBWAA since 1956.

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3 Responses to “Hall of Fame: Bob Feller (1962)”

  1. MattR Says:

    It's hard to believe that Mr. Feller was the first one since Walter Johnson to be elected in his first year of eligibility. The writers must have been STRICT.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Isn't it? Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure why there was such a lull in the voting. Maybe they just wanted a really big star to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer?

  3. Dan Says:

    The reason for the long gap between Feller and the first HOF class with regards to first-ballot hall of famers is that voting was a mess for a while during the 50s.

    Here's long article about why Joe Dimaggio didn't get voted in during his first few years on the ballot, and how the rules were changed thereafter.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/how-joe-dimaggio-forever-changed-cooperstown-voting/

    Good stuff on Feller. Two of my favorite anecdotes on Feller from his website: "Time put Feller on it's April 19, 1937, cover. NBC radio jumped on the Feller bandwagon, covering the young player's graduation from Van Meter High School "live" on its national radio network. "

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