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Bob Feller

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Bob Feller was a pitcher who played 18 seasons in the Majors for the Cleveland Indians. Feller pitched from 1936 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1956, interrupted only by his four-year service in the Navy. In a career spanning 570 games, Feller pitched 3,827 innings and posted a winloss record of 266162, with 279 complete games, 44 shutouts, and a 3.25 ERA. Feller heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor while returning from a visit to his terminally ill father at Des Moines to Chicago where he was to sign a new Indians contract. Two days later, he volunteered for the United States Navy, becoming the first American professional athlete to enlist. Originally he tried to enlist as a fighter pilot but failed hearing tests. Feller attended basic training at Norfolk Naval Base and served as a physical fitness instructor there. Although he had received a military exemption owing to his father's failing health, he wanted to serve in combat missions. Feller said, "I told them I wanted to ... get into combat; wanted to do something besides standing around handing out balls and bats and making ball fields out of coral reefs." Feller was assigned to the USS Alabama; he had hoped to serve on the USS Iowa, but nearly all servicemen from Iowa had requested a place on that ship, and Feller was not selected. Shortly before Feller left for combat, his father died of brain cancer in early January 1943. Five days later he married Virginia Winther whom he met while in Florida for spring training; she was a student at Rollins College. After the marriage, Feller returned to service as Gun Captain aboard the Alabama and kept his pitching arm in shape by throwing near a gun turret. Feller and the Alabama crew spent most of 1943 in the British Isles along with USS South Dakota, but in August were reassigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations. Feller's first taste of direct combat was at Operation Galvanic in November 1943. The Alabama also served during Operation Flintlock while primarily b

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FILE- In this Feb. 28, 1941, file photo, Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Feller works on his form during spring training baseball in Fort Myers, Fla. Feller, the Iowa farm boy whose powerful right arm earned him the nickname "Rapid Robert" and made him one of baseball's greatest pitchers during a Hall of Fame career with the Indians, has died Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. He was 92. (AP Photo/File)

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An American flag, flowers and sunflower seeds rest on a statue of Bob Feller at Progressive Field Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, in Cleveland. The reflection is of Feller pitching. Feller, one of baseball's greatest pitchers during a Hall of Fame career with the Cleveland Indians, died Wednesday night Dec. 15, 2010. He was 92. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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Howard Jones, of Earlham, Iowa, looks at a print of Bob Feller in the Bob Feller Museum, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, in Van Meter, Iowa. Feller, a Hall of Fame pitcher who won 266 games in 18 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, died on Wednesday of acute leukemia at a hospice. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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FILE - In this March 6, 2010, file photo, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller tips his hats to fans before a spring training baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, Ariz. Feller, the Iowa farm boy whose powerful right arm earned him the nickname "Rapid Robert" and made him one of baseball's greatest pitchers during a Hall of Fame career with the Indians, has died Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. He was 92. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)