When I was much younger, perhaps 15 years old, my family was coming home from a vacation. It was our last day on the road and much of Iowa and northern Missouri stretched before us. All of us were bone-tired, road weary and ready for a sleep in a familiar bed.
I asked my parents if they would make a detour. I wanted to drive about 45 miles out of the way to visit the small town of Van Meter, Iowa.
Van Meter is the home of the Bob Feller Museum.
My parents said no.
Even my baseball-crazy older brother didn't seem interested. They were all too tired to think about a long detour.
So I asked again. And again. And again and again and again and again and again and again until they finally agreed, just to shut me up. My father pointed the van west, destination Van Meter.
We arrived at the small museum and we were impressed by the beautiful but diminuitive structure. I was having the time of my life, but my relatives were underwhelmed.
Front and center among the exhibits featuring personal memorabilia of Bob Feller's life was a huge display case with a single wood bat inside. Strange for a museum dedicated to a pitcher.
It was Bob Feller's bat. But it was famous for something else. In 1947, Feller loaned his bat to someone else for a day during the Indians' visit to Yankee Stadium.
Yes. THAT bat.
So we browsed around for a few minutes and made our way to the gift shop. My brother and I purchased some postcards and souvenirs. When we paid, the elderly female cashier said, "Stick around for a little while. Bob'll be here any minute."
Seconds later, Bob Feller himself walked through the door.Quickly, my brother and I bought more souvenirs and took them to the table where Mr. Feller held court. He promised to sign our items, and strongly encouraged us to make a donation to the museum. We did.
All of a sudden, Matt's crazy side trip wasn't so crazy. I was a hero.
That's my Bob Feller anecdote. I'll miss him, and I'll miss knowing that he's in Van Meter, Iowa, watching over his little museum.