Rapid Robert

Bob Feller at 90. A nice profile of the last remaining star of the 1930s (Feller broke in in 1936 and went 24-9 in 1939; he and Stan Musial are reallly the only major stars left from the pre-war era). H/T.
Given how short a pitcher’s prime can be (Feller’s last year as a great pitcher was at age 28, although he managed a 22-8 record at age 32 and 13-3 as a sore-armed 35-year-old), Feller probably lost more of his best baseball to the war than any other great player; he missed three full seasons and most of a fourth to the war from age 23-26, after winning 24, 27 and 25 games the prior three years and 26 his first full year back, and retired 34 wins short of 300. Granted, we don’t know if he would have broken down earlier without that break in his years of carrying a major league workload (the man averaged 309 innings and 26 complete games a year from age 19-22), and we don’t know if he would have lasted longer if he hadn’t thrown 371.1 innings and 36 complete games for a team going nowhere his first full year back. When I ran my translated pitching stats project some years ago, Feller was one of four pitchers who really stood out as throwing a lot more innings per year in his prime than his contemporaries, the others being Robin Roberts, Phil Niekro and John Clarkson. He was and is, in any event, one of the all-time greats.

5 thoughts on “Rapid Robert”

  1. Bob Feller was awesome! I can’t see anyone right now who is comparible to him. Like Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson in their prime, his fastball was truly unhittable most days.

  2. Good post, Crank. I once saw an interview with Bob Feller. When the subject turned to WWII and he was asked if he regretted the loss of years from his career, he instantly turned very serious and said (paraphrasing), “NO! We had been the victims of a surprise attack, the war was going badly for the Allies everywhere, our freedom was at stake and I thought there were more important things to be doing than playing baseball.” I also remember an interview with Warren Spahn. When asked about the war and losing years of his career he replied (paraphrasing again), “No. I gained a lot of maturity during the war years. I may not have lasted nearly as long in the majors without that maturity.”

  3. The guy can still bring it. My cousin went to a fantasy camp prior to spring training a couple years ago. He was covering it for his radio station. Feller pitched an inning every couple days and my cousin said in the whole week Feller gave up one hit.
    Great ball player and great American! He hasn’t mellowed with age either. If you ask him a question you’ll get his honest opinion not some BS cliche.

  4. One of my heroes (his politics are is business). Unlike the gutless DiMaggio, Feller was a true hero. He was offered a cushy job selling war bondsand was assigned to a destroyer. His answer to the cushy job was no, because, “We were at war and we were losing.” A hero, a great man, a terrific pitcher, and I bet if you ask him what he lost by serving in the Navy would tell you what he got instead.

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