Thursday, December 16, 2010

RIP Bob Feller

The New York Times has posted an interesting recap by Feller four years ago about his decision to enlist in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor. Here are some highlights --

-- I was driving to my meeting with my Cleveland Indians bosses to hash out my 1942 contract, and out it came on the radio: the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. The last thing on my mind right then was playing baseball. I immediately decided to enlist in the United States Navy. I didn’t have to — I was 23 and strong-bodied, you bet, but with my father terminally ill back in Van Meter, Iowa, I was exempt from military service.

-- It was one of the greatest experiences in my life. You can talk about teamwork on a baseball team, but I’ll tell you, it takes teamwork when you have 2,900 men stationed on the U.S.S. Alabama in the South Pacific.

--I went on inactive duty in August 1945, and since I had stayed in such good shape, and had played ball on military teams, I was ready to start for the Indians just two days later, against the Tigers. More than 47,000 people came to see me return — there was such a patriotic feeling, with V-J Day so fresh in everyone’s minds. Even though I hadn’t pitched in the major leagues in almost four years, I struck out the first batter. I wound up throwing a four-hitter and winning, 4-2. What a great night.

-- A lot of folks say that had I not missed those almost four seasons to World War II — during what was probably my physical prime — I might have had 370 or even 400 wins. But I have no regrets. None at all. I did what any American could and should do: serve his country in its time of need. The world’s time of need. I knew then, and I know today, that winning World War II was the most important thing to happen to this country in the last 100 years. I’m just glad I was a part of it. I was only a gun captain on the battleship Alabama for 34 months. People have called me a hero for that, but I’ll tell you this — heroes don’t come home. Survivors come home.


1 Comments:

Blogger aquaken said...

Great NPR story about Feller the other morning, too, hitting some other highlights: His leadership of the Players Association & his firm commitment to better wages for ballplayers; and his organizing of barnstorming tours pitting major leaguers against Negro League teams -- which the report indicated was a factor in the decision to integrate MLB.

Bob Feller, labor leader and civil rights activist! I love it. You can read and listen here:
http://www.npr.org/2010/12/16/132101192/Pitching-Great-Bob-Feller-Dies-At-92.

8:52 AM  

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