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Feller was ‘a nice fella’

<p>In this Feb. 28, 1941, file photo, Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Feller works on his form during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Feller was an 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 Indians. In 2009, a year before Feller died, St. John’s baseball great Ron Butler struck up a friendship with the former World Series winner while on a cruise.</p>
<p>In this Feb. 28, 1941, file photo, Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Feller works on his form during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Feller was an 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 Indians. In 2009, a year before Feller died, St. John’s baseball great Ron Butler struck up a friendship with the former World Series winner while on a cruise.</p>

The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, in 1948, the Tribe’s pitching staff was led by Bob Feller, “Rapid Robert” or the “Heater from Van Meter”, the last reference being his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa.

Feller went 19-15 in ’48, leading the American League with 164 strikeouts in 280 innings pitched.

One of the best ever to throw a baseball, Feller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.

Feller passed away in 2010 at age 92.

In 2009, former St. John’s baseball standout Ron Butler got to hang out with Feller for a week, on a baseball fantasy cruise — a gift from Butler’s daughter — which also featured Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver (who died in 2013, ironically enough on a Baltimore Orioles fantasy baseball cruise), 1968 AL rookie of the year Stan Bahnsen, former base-stealing great Bert Campaneris and five-time all-star Amos Otis.

“Feller and Kiner were great,” said Butler, a St. John’s and Newfoundland baseball Hall of Famer, and a hard thrower himself with St. John’s teams in the 1950s and 60s.

“We had some great chats. They were the best. The thing I remember the most was they were both dead set against the steroid guys getting in the Hall of Fame.

“I remember Kiner saying, ‘As long as we’re alive …’”

Kiner’s also gone, having passed away two years ago at age 91.

“Feller was telling me about a book he had out (‘Hello, Slider!’), about pitching for kids. He sent me an autographed copy afterwards.”

Butler recalls Feller telling him that all did growing up was work the farm and throw baseballs. That arm strength helped him grow into one of the hardest throwers the game has even seen.

Feller finished with 266 career wins, but missed three full years as a member of the U.S. Navy, seeing combat in the Second World War.

“His father tied a tire to a tree, and all he did was throw baseball’s through the middle of it. He was very down to earth. What a nice fella.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

Feller went 19-15 in ’48, leading the American League with 164 strikeouts in 280 innings pitched.

One of the best ever to throw a baseball, Feller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.

Feller passed away in 2010 at age 92.

In 2009, former St. John’s baseball standout Ron Butler got to hang out with Feller for a week, on a baseball fantasy cruise — a gift from Butler’s daughter — which also featured Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver (who died in 2013, ironically enough on a Baltimore Orioles fantasy baseball cruise), 1968 AL rookie of the year Stan Bahnsen, former base-stealing great Bert Campaneris and five-time all-star Amos Otis.

“Feller and Kiner were great,” said Butler, a St. John’s and Newfoundland baseball Hall of Famer, and a hard thrower himself with St. John’s teams in the 1950s and 60s.

“We had some great chats. They were the best. The thing I remember the most was they were both dead set against the steroid guys getting in the Hall of Fame.

“I remember Kiner saying, ‘As long as we’re alive …’”

Kiner’s also gone, having passed away two years ago at age 91.

“Feller was telling me about a book he had out (‘Hello, Slider!’), about pitching for kids. He sent me an autographed copy afterwards.”

Butler recalls Feller telling him that all did growing up was work the farm and throw baseballs. That arm strength helped him grow into one of the hardest throwers the game has even seen.

Feller finished with 266 career wins, but missed three full years as a member of the U.S. Navy, seeing combat in the Second World War.

“His father tied a tire to a tree, and all he did was throw baseball’s through the middle of it. He was very down to earth. What a nice fella.”

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

 

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