This farm boy from Van Meter,
Iowa was only 17 when he struck out eight members of the St. Louis Cardinals
in three innings of an exhibition game. After this awesome display of
pitching, Feller was advised to seek voluntary retirement from high
school in order to sign a professional baseball contract. For 20 years,
the teenage phenomena was known as "Bullet Bob" and "Rapid
Robert." As a rookie, he struckout 15 batters in a single game,
which at that time was an American League record. In 1940, Bullet Bob
became the first American League pitcher to throw a complete game no-hitter
on opening day.
At age 23, his career was interrupted by his four-year
enlistment in the Navy. Upon entering the Navy, Feller became an anti-aircraft
gunner aboard the U.S.S. Alabama and came out a highly decorated war
veteran. He then re-entered Major League Baseball to regain his dominance
on the mound. Even though his military career consumed four prime baseball
years, Feller ranks 28th in history with 266 wins. He remains the Indians
all-time leader in shutouts (46), strikeouts (2,581), innings (3,828)
and All-Star appearances (8).
To this day, baseball historians speculate
that Bullet Bob might have won 350 games and recorded nearly 3,500 strikeouts
had he not joined the military. In 1962, this bullet hit the bulls-eye
with an induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.