Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He was born on November 3, 1918, in Van Meter, Iowa . Feller played for the Cleveland Indians, his only team, for 18 years, being one of "The Big Four" Indians pitching rotation in the 1950s, along with Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia. He ended his career with 266 victories and 2,581 strikeouts, and led the American League in strikeouts seven times. He pitched three no-hit games and shares the major league record with 12 one-hitters. Feller was the first pitcher to win 20 or more games before the age of 21. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
He was signed by scout Cy Slapnicka for $1 and an autographed baseball. Upon being made GM of the Indians, Slapnicka transferred Feller's contract from Fargo-Moorehead to New Orleans to the majors without the pitcher so much as visiting either farm club, in clear violation of baseball rules. After a three-month investigation, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis made it clear that he did not believe what Slapnicka or Cleveland president Alva Bradley said, but awarded Feller to the Indians anyway, partly due to the testimony of Feller and his father, who wanted Bob to play for Cleveland.
On December 8, 1941 Feller enlisted in the Navy. He was chief of the gun crew of the USS Alabama, and missed four seasons during his service in World War II, being decorated with five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars. Many baseball historians have speculated that Feller would have won perhaps 350 games with well over 3,000 strikeouts had he not joined the military.
When Feller retired in 1956, he held the dubious major league record for most walks in a career (1,764). He still holds the 20th century record for most walks in a season (208 in 1938).
In Feller's later years, he has been very vocal about his resentment of the idea of Pete Rose, who was banned in 1989 for betting on baseball games while serving as manager for the Cincinnati Reds, being reinstated into Major League Baseball (and subsequently, be admitted into the Hall of Fame. In 2004, Feller criticized Major League Baseball for inviting boxing legend Muhammad Ali (because Ali protested over himself being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War) to throw out the first pitch at the All-Star Game in Houston. In retrospect, Bob Feller's outspoken ways has perhaps ultimately given him the reputation of being a bitter old curmudgeon.
He lives with his second wife, Anne Gilliland, in Florida. Feller and his ex-wife, Virginia Winther, have 3 sons.
- Winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history (266 victories)
- Led league in wins six times (1939-41, 1946-47, 1951)
- Led league in ERA (1940)
- Led league in strikeouts seven times (1938-41, 1946-48)
- 8-time All-Star (1938-41, 1946-48, 1950)
- Inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1962
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