CLEVELAND (AP) - Bob Feller, the Iowa farm boy whose powerful
right arm earned him the nickname "Rapid Robert" and made him one
of baseball's greatest pitchers during a Hall of Fame career with
the Cleveland Indians, has died. He was 92.
Feller died at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday night of acute leukemia at
a hospice, said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians vice president of public
Remarkably fit until late in life, Feller had suffered serious
health setbacks in recent months. He was diagnosed with a form of
leukemia in August, and while undergoing chemotherapy, he fainted
and his heart briefly stopped. Eventually, he underwent surgery to
have a pacemaker implanted.
In November, he was hospitalized with pneumonia and Feller was
recently released into hospice care.
Even as his health deteriorated, Feller continued doing what he
loved most - attending Indians games deep into last season.
"Nobody lives forever and I've had a blessed life," Feller
said in September. "I'd like to stay on this side of the grass for
as long as I can, though. I'd really like to see the Indians win a
Feller, in fact, was part of the rotation the last time the
Indians won it all - in 1948.
Fiercely proud and patriotic, Feller was an American original.
He won 266 games during 18 seasons - all with the Indians, who
brought him up to the majors as a 17-year old. Feller's win total
remains a Cleveland team record, one that seems almost untouchable
in today's free-agent era.
Feller was part of a vaunted Indians' rotation in the 1940s and
'50s with fellow Hall of Famers Bob Lemon and Early Wynn. He
finished with 2,581 career strikeouts, led the American League in
strikeouts seven times, pitched three no-hitters - including the
only one on opening day - and recorded a jaw-dropping 12
His numbers would no doubt have been even greater had his career
not been interrupted by World War II.
The first pitcher to win 20 games before he was 21, Feller was
enshrined in Cooperstown in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
The Indians retired his No. 19 jersey in 1957 and immortalized
the greatest player in franchise history with a statue when they
opened their downtown stadium in 1994. The sculpture is vintage
Feller, captured forever in the middle of his patented windmill
windup, rearing back to fire another pitch.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)