Bob Feller began his career in 1936, and from 1939 to 1941 he was the game's premier hurler - he led the AL in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts in each of those years, and won his only ERA title in 1940. His blazing fastball set the standard against which all of his successors have been judged.
The winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history, in 1962 Feller became the first pitcher since charter member Walter Johnson to be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
He lost nearly four seasons to the Navy during WWII, earning eight battle stars. Although he returned to lead the AL in wins and innings pitched in 1946 and 1947, finishing in the top three in ERA in 1946, 1947 and 1950, the lost years diminished his career stats. Add those prime years to his career, and he would have had over 350 wins and perhaps 3,500 strikeouts. As it was, he retired with 266 career wins and 2,581 strikeouts.
He led the American League in strikeouts on 7 occasions, including the 1946 season when he fanned 348, then a major league record. (He broke Rube Waddell's record, though later research indicates Waddell may have had 349 Ks in 1904, not the 343 he had been credited with). He struck out 17 batters in a game as a Cleveland rookie in 1936, and topped that mark with 18 Ks in a contest in 1938. He authored three no-hitters and shares the major league record with 12 one-hitters.
Beginning in 1948, he began to decline, although he led the AL in strikeouts for the seventh and final time. He salvaged his season with six straight wins down the stretch to help the Indians to their first pennant in 28 years. He opened the WS against the Braves, but lost 1-0 on a controversial call. He'd apparently picked Boston's Phil Masi off second base, but the Braves' catcher was called safe. Masi then scored the game's only run when Tommy Holmes singled.
|BASEBALL: Scores / Schedules | Standings | Stats | Transactions | Injuries|