Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Bullet Bob Feller dead; Fastball lovers mourn
Rapid Robert -- also known as Bullet Bob Feller -- died today. He was 92.
You can read a wonderful article about him in the New York Times tonight.
Bob Feller was a boyhood hero of mine. I fell in love with the fastball because of Bullet Bob and when you fall in love with the fastball something inside you changes. You're no longer satisfied playing the odds in anything. You never take the safe option. You start drawing to inside straights and you shoot the moon so often nobody will play cards with you. You develop an unfortunate attraction to fast cars and, yes!, fast girls.
I had a decent fastball as a kid. I can testify nothing is quite like throwing a fastball past a hitter. It's magic. The ball's in your hand, the hitter swings so hard you can feel the wind, the ball's in the catcher's mitt.
Feller was faster than anybody before him and most after him. Funny thing is this: When I was writing about Zack Greinke two days ago, searching for a nickname to play off Nolan Ryan's great nickname -- The Express -- I thought, 'What about 'The Bullet Train' for Zack Greinke?" A nickname like The Bullet Train would be a nice combination of The Express and Bullet Bob.
But then I realized Mr. Greinke is neither Nolan Ryan nor Bob Feller. When it's all said and done he might be better, who knows?, but he ain't the same.
Well, in one way he compares nicely with those two gents. He seems to take the same pleasure they took in blowing a fastball past a good hitter. You can see it in his eyes. Fastballers are evil that way. They don't want to just get you out. They want to make you look dazzled.
Image by Charles Colon/TSN/Icon SMI [Ain't that a fastball look?]