web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



A Mighty Fine Feller

Bob Feller was stubborn and opinionated – and, I must admit, I didn’t care for him too much at our first meeting over 30 years ago.

 

But the more our paths crossed and the more conversations we had, the more I liked him. I even came to admire him.

 

Feller, who died last month at age 92, was of course a great pitcher but he was also a savvy businessman. He played a major role in the formation of the players’ union and was the first player to incorporate. He headed off-season baseball barnstorming tours playing with and against Negro League players before the major leagues were finally integrated in 1947.

 

Feller chartered and even flew his own plane, hired the traveling secretary of the Cleveland Indians to handle bookings, and he paid all players, including the Negro Leaguers, well. Buck O’Neill, one of the Negro League stars born to soon to play in the majors, claimed he made more money with Feller’s tours than he did playing in the established Negro Leagues.

 

Feller’s story is an interesting one.

 

He made his big-league debut at the age of 17 in August 1936. The young fireballer pitched 62 innings and struck out 76 that season. And he just kept getting better. He already had won 107 games for the Cleveland Indians when he turned 21 in November 1941. But the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor a couple of weeks later and Feller opted to turn in his baseball uniform for a military one.

 

He didn’t have to give up the big-league life and big-league money. He could have claimed a deferral as a farmer whose father was too sick to operate the family farm in Iowa. But the patriotic pitcher joined the Navy and pushed aside the cushy assignments most big league players were able to get.

 

Feller wanted to serve as an ordinary American rather than a big-league star and found plenty of action in combat – including at Iwo Jima. He didn’t return from military service until late in the 1945 season, which meant he missed almost four full seasons in his prime. Even without those years, Feller still managed to rack up 266 victories.

 

As baseball commissioner Bud Selig noted at Feller’s passing, “Bob Feller was a great baseball player, but he was an even greater American.”

 

Baseball recently lost some other greats.

 

Cubs broadcaster and former third baseman Ron Santo compiled 342 home runs and a .277 batting average over a 15-year playing career and won the Gold Glove Award for defensive abilities five times. Santo was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at 18 but didn’t reveal it to teammates until his fourth season in the majors and fans found out two years after that.

 

It wasn’t easy dealing with diabetes during his career (1960-1974). Santo, who was a fixture in the Cubs broadcast booth for the last 21 years, liked to tell this story about one of the times his condition was acting up:

 

“I was in the on-deck circle and Billy Williams was up in the bottom of the ninth inning. I was hoping Williams would hit a home run and end the game so I wouldn’t have to bat, as I was seeing three of everything. Williams walked and I had to go up and bat. Since I saw what looked like three pitchers, I decided I would swing at the ball I was seeing in the middle. I did and hit a home run and somehow made it around the bases and we won the game.”

 

Santo was 70 when he passed away.

 

Phil Cavaretta, another Chicago legend, died at 94. He played for the Cubs for 20 years (1934-1953) before going to the White Sox for two seasons.

 

A first baseman-outfielder, Cavaretta topped the league in 1945 with a .355 average and led the Cubs to the World Series (they haven’t made it since). He batted an amazing .423 in the seven-game series but Hank Greenberg’s two home runs helped Detroit down the Cubs.

 

The biggest player of his time (6-5, 220), Walt Dropo died a month shy of his 88th birthday. He hailed from Moosup, Connecticut, which gave him the nickname “Moose.” Dropo had a great rookie year in 1950 with the Red Sox, batting .322 and swatting 34 home runs with 144 RBI in 136 games. The popular big guy never topped the .300 or 30-homer mark again in his 13-year career with Boston, Detroit, the White Sox, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

 

Gil McDougald, who spent his entire ten-year career (1951-1960) with the Yankees as an infielder, died at 82. A .276 lifetime hitter, McDougald was a valuable member of the Yankees, helping the club to eight World Series during his 10 seasons with the team, all under manager Casey Stengel.

 

While this has been an off-season tinged with sadness, teams have been busy, with many faces heading to new places. Since we can expect more wheeling and dealing, especially from the Yankees and Mets, who seem to have fallen further behind some other clubs, I’ll wait a while to give my opinions.

 

As always, your opinions are welcome.


 


 


Next month Irwin Cohen will tell us about being an Orthodox Jew in the baseball field. Cohen, president of the Detroit community’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.com 

About the Author: The author of 10 books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed the legendary Hank Greenberg. He went on to work for a major league team and became the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. He can be reached in his Detroit area dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Mighty Fine Feller”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Baby wearing a Hamas head band attends a Hamas "victory" rally in central Gaza City, on August 27, 2014, following the latest cease-fire.
Vast Majority of Gazan Arabs Support Terror Against Israel
Latest Sections Stories
Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot together in concert.

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

Mordechai-082214-Armoire

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

Einhorn-082214-Water

Stroll through formal gardens, ride mountain bikes, or go rock climbing.

As they fall upon us we go
To the WALL.

One minute you’re shaving shwarma off a pit, then the shwarma guy tells you he read a (fake) WhatsApp that the boys are dead.

I probe a little deeper and Shula takes me into the world of phantom pains and prosthetic limbs.

This went on until she had immersed eighty times, and then Hashem at last took pity upon her.

Because Menachem lives in Israel, he can feel the ruach in the air.

Perhaps you can reach a compromise during this news frenzy, whereby you will feel more comfortable while he can still follow the latest events.

Leon experienced the War of Independence from a soldier’s perspective, while remaining true to his Jewish ideals and beliefs.

Chabad of Arizona centers recently hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the 20th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

More Articles from Irwin Cohen
Derek Jeter

“No kid is worth a million dollars to sign,” Newhouser said, “but if one kid is, it’s this kid.”

Baseball-Insider

Zimmer was popular with veteran teammates like Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider – and with a rookie lefthander named Sandy Koufax.

I’m sure readers noticed those full-page advertisements that ran prior to last month’s meeting about the situation at the Brooklyn home of Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin. Avrohom chaired the even along with his brother Menachem, a prominent askan and the president of Lubicom.

I spoke twice during Pesach. The first topic was the Holocaust and Jewish ballplayers and the second was how I, a frum-from-birth Jew, ended up in major league baseball.

Even if a player reaches the big league level, there’s still no guarantee he’ll remain with one team for long. Former Jewish outfielder Richie Scheinblum comes to mind.

The snow has melted in most parts of the country and here in Florida, where I have my winter dugout in the Orthodox enclave of Century Village in West Palm Beach, I had the opportunity to take in several spring training games.

If you’re visiting spring training sites, Arizona has two advantages – fewer games are rained out and the facilities are much closer to each other than is the case in Florida.

There were 15 Jews in the major leagues during the 2013 season, but only a few from a Jewish mother.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/a-mighty-fine-feller-2/2011/01/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: