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Bob Feller

Posted by Andy on December 16, 2010

Bob Feller has passed away at age 92.

He was pretty well before my time and I don't know too much about him or his career.

He missed 3 years for World War II--those were his Age 23, 24, and 25 seasons, as well as most of his Age 26 season. In his 5 full seasons surrounding this gap, he won at least 20 games every time. If you give him 75 extra wins for that missed time, his career win total would have been 341 (11th all-time.) If you give him 91 extra wins (accounting for the fact that he averaged 24+ wins over those 5 surrounding seasons) that would have given him 357 for his career (8th all-time.)

Another way to look at it:

Most wins up to Age 22 season:

Rk Player W From To Age G GS CG SHO L W-L% IP
1 Bob Feller 107 1936 1941 17-22 205 175 117 16 54 .665 1448.1
2 Smoky Joe Wood 81 1908 1912 18-22 152 109 88 23 43 .653 999.2
3 Dwight Gooden 73 1984 1987 19-22 124 124 42 16 26 .737 924.1
4 Babe Ruth 67 1914 1917 19-22 121 110 75 16 34 .663 890.2
5 Christy Mathewson 64 1901 1903 20-22 120 113 103 16 47 .577 987.0
6 Bert Blyleven 63 1970 1973 19-22 144 141 58 18 58 .521 1054.2
7 Chief Bender 60 1903 1906 19-22 136 103 89 10 46 .566 941.0
8 Pete Schneider 59 1914 1918 18-22 200 153 84 10 85 .410 1245.0
9 Walter Johnson 57 1907 1910 19-22 135 120 99 20 65 .467 1033.0
10 Larry Dierker 55 1964 1969 17-22 144 132 43 7 50 .524 980.2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/16/2010.

Feller is way out in the lead for 2 reasons: 1) an early start and 2) being a great pitcher.

He's also tied for the 87th most wins (post-1901) from Age 27 on.

That means if he had been able to pitch those 3+ years, he probably would have amassed some of the greatest counting stats ever for a starting pitcher.

Please share your thoughts and memories of Rapid Robert below.

106 Responses to “Bob Feller”

  1. John Autin Says:

    @99, GD wrote:
    "BTW: [Feller] and the other major leaguers made $$$ barnstorming against Negro league teams, they didn't do it for any other reason."

    Probably true. But everything's relative in this regard, no? Within the context of that time, isn't there merit to letting the profit motive outweigh any (possible) prejudice?

    Plenty of other stars through the years could have made money the same way Feller did. But some of them wouldn't even consider playing against blacks.

    I think that if every white person in 1946 America had been willing to interact with black people for purely commercial motives, but with a civil and professional attitude, regardless of their actual beliefs, life in America would have been a hundred times better for blacks than it actually was at that time. Actions speak louder....

  2. mr.baseballcard Says:

    Wanted to share some memories I had of Bob Feller from the summer of 2001, when I visited Cooperstown (small plug here for the GREAT posts about the HoF from Steve Lombardi.)

    1) Left the HoF for lunch and walking down the main street of town, saw that a card shop near the museum had Bob Feller signing autographs for $25. I have a phillosophical problem paying for autographs, but liked Feller from his years on the HoF Board and stopped to watch.
    - My wife asked why we were stopping and when I explained that we were watching Bob Feller, she replied "but he didn't win 300 games, couldn'thave been that good" - No I did not seek divorce on the spot.
    - Watched and loved how he interacted with a small 9 year old boy getting a baseball autographed. Asked if he was good in math and when the kid said yes, Feller took out a picture of himself from the 1954 WS and told the kid that he played in the 50th WS ever played in 1954. Then explained that 1 year the WS wasn't played. Therefore, when was the first WS played? The poor kid couldn't answer and BF handed him the unpaid for autographed picture and told hiim if he could solve the math lesson after lunch, he would give him a second autographed pic.
    - At this point, about 20 people (all male except for my wife) were standing around and in awe of Bob Feller, hanging on his every word. At this point his 80ish year old wife came up, snapped her fingers and said so all could hear, "Robert, lunch is ready. Come home now!" Without a word, Bob Feller who had fought bravely in WWII and faced Joe D + Teddy Ballgame, turned and followed his wife down the main street of Cooperstown.

  3. mr.baseballcard Says:

    Later that afternoon, we left the Museum and walked to get some ice cream around the corner in a little trailer near the ball field in town. Bob Feller and his wife were there having some ice cream and while my wife got me my ice cream I walkedup to Mr. Feller, introduced myself as a fan. He started to shoo me away when I blurted out that I loved how he had publicly took a stance against allowing Pete Rose in the HoF, and I admired him for that and agreed with his point of view. He simply said thank you, and walked away.
    In the evening, we left the HofF when it closed @ 8:00 pm, and wanted to get some dinner. Problem was that Cooperstown is a small town and the restaurants on Main Street were all closed by 8:00 pm. We ran to a pizza/Italian place right across the street and the woman at the door explained that although the place was open, the kitchen was closed and she couldn't let us sit down. Hungry and disappointed, we turned to leave when out of nowhere a booming voice called out, "Hey, whatever the woman's name was, let them stay and tell, whatever the cook's name was, to get some food for these nice young people. This young man agrees with me. It was Bob Feller who was just finishing dinner with his wife. We got to sit down and had one of the more memorable dinners in my life talking with Mr. and Mrs. Feller. When told the story of how she had summoned her husband earlier in the day, Mrs. Feller told my wife "but to me he is just Robert, not a Hall of Famer".
    Wonderful couple.

  4. MikeD Says:

    @103, Nice story!

    I also just got around to watching the Mike Wallace interview with Bob Feller in 1957, linked above. Wow, interesting on a few levels. Unrelated to baseball, amazing how they integrated Philip Morris and smoking into the entire interview. Funny yet uncomfortable at the same time. Feller seemed a but uneasy with the interview format, continually arching his eyebrow. Also interesting to hear how far ahead he was of most players on eliminating the reserve clause. Mike Wallace almost made it sound like Feller was crazy for supporting such a silly notion!

  5. John Autin Says:

    @102-103, Mr.baseballcard -- Nice story.

    I'd be impressed with any 9-year-old who could correctly answer Feller's math question on the spot, even if it didn't have the extra complication of no WS in 1904.

    For a lot of people, that type of question is harder than it should be. Even if there were no WS gap year to grapple with, I think most adults would get it wrong, because they'd work it this way: "1954 was the 50th WS. 1954 minus 50 is [pause] 1904. So the first WS was played in 1904."

    I often have to explain to someone that, if you have a span of enumerated items and you want to know how items are in the span, inclusive, you have to subtract the numbers and then add 1.

    Or to put it another way: Show the average person a list of things numbered 1 to 10, they know immediately that there are 10 things, because they instinctively grasp the concept of counting from 1; they don't have to do "10 minus 1, plus 1." But show them a list numbered 10 to 20, and most will think there 10 things in that list, too.

    Sadly, this is the same majority who insist that we mark our centuries starting with a year that ends in "-00".

    P.S. Far from divorcing your wife for the crack about Feller not winning 300 games, I'm pretty sure you should buy her something for knowing that (a) 300 wins is a meaningful number and (b) Feller didn't get there.

  6. John Autin Says:

    Oops, bad typo in my 4th paragraph:
    "... you want to know how many items are in the span...."

    (Guess I should stick to numbers!)