Hall of Fame pitcher Feller dies

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 11:39 PM ET

CLEVELAND - Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller died Wednesday night at the age of 92.

Feller died of acute leukemia in Cleveland, according to a release from the Indians. He spent his entire 18-season career with the Indians and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.

"Bob Feller is gone. We cannot be surprised," said Indians owner Larry Dolan in a statement. "Yet, it seems improbable. Bob has been such an integral part of our fabric, so much more than an ex-ballplayer, so much more than any Cleveland Indians player. He is Cleveland, Ohio. His statue at Progressive Field is an icon. No more, no less than Moses Cleveland in Public Square."

Feller's health declined this year. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in August, had a pacemaker implanted in October and was hospitalized with pneumonia in mid-November. Feller was placed in hospice care last week.

"To say he will be missed is such an understatement," Dolan's statement continued. "In fact, more to the point, he will not be missed because he will always be with us. Since 1936 he has been with us. For 75 years he has been a contributing citizen, a model for all athletes, and friend of thousands. As so it shall be in the larger sense, Bob will be with us always. Not at Opening Day, not at Fantasy Camp, not in the press box, but in our hearts.

We in Cleveland have been blessed to have had him with us these many years. We will never let his memory pass."

Feller, born in Iowa, began his major league career with Cleveland in 1936 at the age of 17, and was named an All-Star in just his third season. By his 20s, Feller had turned into one of the game's best pitchers, winning 76 games from 1939-41 and leading the majors in strikeouts each season.

That winter, though, his life changed following the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor. Feller enlisted in the U.S. Navy the next day, the first MLB player to do so, and immediately volunteered for combat service.

"Bob was a living legend, but more importantly, a true American patriot," said Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton. "Nothing was more important to Bob than this country and what it stands for. Of all of his accomplishments, he was most proud of the fact that he served this country with honor during World War II."

He was out of baseball for nearly four seasons while serving, but he was still "Rapid Robert" upon returning.

In 1946, Feller threw 371 1/3 innings in 48 games, going 26-15 with 348 strikeouts. He won a World Series title in 1948 -- the most recent Indians championship.

Feller pitched in 570 games (484 starts) in his career and compiled a record of 266-162 with a 3.25 earned run average. He tossed three no-hitters, including the only Opening Day no-hitter in major league history -- on April 16, 1940. Feller completed 279 games, posted 44 shutouts, and struck out 2,581 batters in his illustrious career.

He still holds the franchise record for career wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and complete games.

Following his final season in 1956, Feller remained a prominent figure in Cleveland. His No. 19 is retired by the team.


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