Dec 16

RIP Chief Bob Feller

Thursday, December 16, 2010 8:22 AM

The Naval History & Heritage Command joins a greatful nation in mourning the passing of our shipmate Chief Bob Feller, the Ace of the Greatest Generation. When asked once what was his most important victory, he replied, “World War II.”

Dr. Ed Furgol of the National Museum of the U.S. Navy has prepared a short vignette about Chief Feller’s naval service which originally appeared on Naval History Blog on 9 December 2010 – the 69th anniversary of his enlistment in the U.S. Navy. It is reprinted below:

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 December 1941, Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt, asking him, “What do you want [baseball] to do? . . .We await your order.” The President replied, “I honestly feel it would be best for the country to keep baseball going.” With this recommendation, the league began a massive effort to support the war. However, some players chose a more patriotic path. Waiving his draft deferment as the sole provider for his family, pitcher Robert Feller enlisted in the Navy on 9 December 1941, becoming the first Major League player to join the service.

Already a national star, Feller was first assigned as a physical training instructor. However, his desire to go into combat led him to volunteer for gunners’ school in 1942. Chief Petty Officer Feller was placed in command of a 40mm antiaircraft mount aboard USS Alabama (BB 60), and served through the campaigns in the North Atlantic and throughout the Pacific theater. In March 1945 he reported to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Illinois, where he managed the baseball team. In August he returned to the Cleveland Indians and resumed his Major League career.

Feller got his nickname, “The Heater from Van Meter,” due to his lightning fastball and his hometown, Van Meter, Iowa. Some baseball experts have credited him as being the hardest throwing pitcher in history. An 8-time All-Star and a World Series champion, Feller’s number 19 was retired by the Cleveland Indians, for whom he played his entire 18-year career. He retired from baseball in 1956, and in 1962 he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Bob Feller also holds two other great distinctions: he never played a game in the minors after being signed by the Cleveland Indians, and he is the only pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter on opening day.

Chief, you stand relieved. We have the watch.

 
 
 
  • Roberta

    “Deepest Condolence’s” Met him a few year’s back at one of His Baseball card show’s.

  • http://www.hrnm.navy.mil Gordon Calhoun

    This is Gordon Calhoun with the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. I had the pleasure of talking with GM3 Bob Feller about his time here in Norfolk while he was playing with the NTS Nine (he actually called me!) He told me he was far more proud his time in the Navy then he playing time in the Major Leagues.

  • Randall

    Ditto,, Chief, you stand relieved. We have the watch.
    Fair winds and following seas.

  • http://www.history.navy.mil NHHC

    Thanks to all for your comments!

  • Roger

    It is people like Bob Feller (whose name I remember from my youth) who made the world safe again so that people like me could serve our great country. I was lucky enough not to have been in combat and I am proud to be a Navy vet. What they say above is correct…we have the watch. God bless and fair seas and a following wind. You go before many of us…we will see you again.

  • Robert Curry

    Bob-Mr. #19, we will surely miss you and thank you for serving our country in the United States Navy, in WWII, by taking charge and enlisting, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. I also send my humble prayers and condolences to the Feller Family, that the Lord Jesus Christ, will comfort the family, during this sad time. Rest In Peace, Bob. <

    In Christ's Love,
    Robert C.
    USN Veteran

  • Ken Pallutch

    It’s a very sad day for all that were touched by Bob. I had the great pleasure of sitting and chatting with him — Chief Petty Officer to Chief Petty Officer — a few years back at Spring Training. We traded sea stories for a bit and then Yogi Berra showed up! It was truly one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had and probably ever will. Thanks for the great memory, Bob. Rest in peace Chief!

  • STSC (ss) Patrick Davis USN Ret

    Bob you earned your rest-

    “Sailor, rest your oars.”

    Thanks from another sailor.

  • Car Mottern

    I met Chief Feller five times. He was an interesting character to say the least. A greta patriotic American and true member of “The Greatest Generation”. I learned to read at an early age and baseball was my favorite sport, the Indians my favorite team. To say he was an “inspiration” to me is an understatement. Fair Winds and Following Seas, Chief Feller!

  • Mike Manos

    God’s speed Bob Feller. Give them your fast ball inside when you play with the real angels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Kidd/1672393350 Joseph Kidd

    Bob Feller was an American patriot and the pitching ace of the Greatest Generation. He was the first ballplayer to volunteer for the US Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He missed four seasons during World War II, earning five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars…and he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He is the only Chief Petty Officer in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I will always admire him for his courage in standing up for black ballplayers years before Jackie Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier. May he Rest in Peace.

  • http://sharronclemons.co.cc/ Sharron Clemons

    I met Chief Feller five times. He was an interesting character to say the least. A greta patriotic American and true member of “The Greatest Generation”. I learned to read at an early age and baseball was my favorite sport, the Indians my favorite team. To say he was an “inspiration” to me is an understatement. Fair Winds and Following Seas, Chief Feller!

  • http://latoyabridges.co.cc/ Latoya Bridges

    It’s a very sad day for all that were touched by Bob. I had the great pleasure of sitting and chatting with him — Chief Petty Officer to Chief Petty Officer — a few years back at Spring Training. We traded sea stories for a bit and then Yogi Berra showed up! It was truly one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had and probably ever will. Thanks for the great memory, Bob. Rest in peace Chief!

  • http://nonamills.co.cc/ Nona Mills

    God’s speed Bob Feller. Give them your fast ball inside when you play with the real angels.

  • Tom

    Sailor, rest your oars.

  • http://barbarachavez.co.cc/ Barbara Chavez

    Bob Feller was an American patriot and the pitching ace of the Greatest Generation. He was the first ballplayer to volunteer for the US Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He missed four seasons during World War II, earning five campaign ribbons and eight battle stars…and he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He is the only Chief Petty Officer in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I will always admire him for his courage in standing up for black ballplayers years before Jackie Robinson broke MLB’s color barrier. May he Rest in Peace.

  • CMDCM(SW) Ken Conner

    At last it’s time to go ashore
    The last my eyes will cast the shore
    My family waits with open arms
    We’ll watch for those that fall from harm

 
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