Today I would usually do a “Friday Inspiration” post. And who better to talk about today than Bob Feller? To add my voice to the many who are celebrating the life of this amazing man who, while not a native, truly became a Clevelander. There are people who become part of the fabric of a city – they’re sewn ino history, legend, memories, even architecture. Bob Feller is one of those people for CLE.
There was a lot of national news coverage about Bob Feller’s passing and so much of what has been written has focused not only on his amazing baseball career, but on his patriotism. At 17, he was the youngest player ever signed to a Major League Baseball team. In his senior year in high school, Bob Feller was on the cover of Time Magazine. His graduation was nationally broadcast on the radio. Two days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, in the midst of seeing his career take-off, Bob Feller enlisted in the United States Navy. He was the first MLB player to enlist in World War II. In the age of LeBron James (yes, I said his name), when we step back and wonder what superstar-dom does to young people, what better example of grace and humility could those young athletes have than Bob Feller? His decision to enlist was not about his career, but his country. Not about the individual, but about the whole.
Bob Feller came back and pitched for the Indians during the real heydey of Indians baseball. One of the CLEaunts would talk about skipping school to go to the World Series games in 1948. Back in those days, going to a World Series game was possible, even just for a kid skipping school. Sports were for everyone and the players were genuine hereos. And so it was with Bob Feller. His talent landed him a permanent place in Cleveland history and in the history of baseball itself. But it was how he lived his life that made him a real legend. We love him, not just for being a part of the only World Series title the Indians have ever won, not just for bringing fame to our team, but for being a true role model and an adopted CLE son.
The 1998 baseball season, I worked at what was then Jacob’s Field. And as I walked into work, I’d walk past the Bob Feller statue. Part of my history. Part of all our histories. The statue is now collecting flowers in memory of Bob Feller. And I think those are there because of more than just his pitching arm or his strike-out count.
Have a wonderful weekend! Do something inspiring.
For more information on Bob Feller’s life, click here.