Teenage pitching sensation, World War II hero, outspoken Hall of Famer and local sports treasure. Bob Feller was all of them. One of a kind, he was an American original.
Blessed with a right arm that earned the Iowa farmboy the nickname “Rapid Robert” and made him one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Feller, who left baseball in the prime of his career to fight for his country, died Wednesday night. He was 92.
Feller, who won 266 games in 18 seasons — all with the Indians — died at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday night of acute leukemia at a hospice, said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians vice-president of public relations. Remarkably fit until late in life, Feller had suffered serious health setbacks in recent months.
He was diagnosed with leukemia in August, and while undergoing chemotherapy, he fainted and his heart briefly stopped. Eventually, he had pacemaker implanted. In November, he was hospitalized with pneumonia and recently released into hospice care. “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 World Series.”
Feller, in fact, was part of the rotation the last time the Indians won it all — in 1948.