Introducing the Cleveland Indians’ Franchise Four candidates

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Bob Feller

credit: Cleveland.com

There is no one more synonymous with Cleveland Indians baseball than Bob Feller.

Feller was a young prodigy who bypassed the minor leagues and made his first appearance with the Tribe at the age of 17. His first start came on Aug. 25, 1936, and he struck out 16 batters in a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Browns. Feller was the first pitcher to win 24 games in a season before he reach 21 years old. He threw no-hitters in 1940, 1946 and 1951 and recorded 12 one-hitters throughout his career.

His career was interrupted by four years of military service during World War II, as Feller became the first Major League Baseball player to enlist for the war. Although he estimated the four-year hiatus from the game cost him 100-plus wins, he later said, “I’m proud of that decision to enlist. It was important to serve your country. I didn’t worry about losing my baseball career. We needed to win the war. I wanted to do my part.”

I’m proud of that decision to enlist. It was important to serve your country. I didn’t worry about losing my baseball career. We needed to win the war. I wanted to do my part. -Bob Feller

As a member of the 1948 team with Boudreau and Doby, Feller helped the Indians win a World Series in 1948 while the Tribe posted an American League record 111 wins. Feller led the league in wins on six different occasions and in strikeouts seven times. An eight-time All-Star, Feller was named “the greatest pitcher of his time” by Sporting News and ranked 36th on the list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Nicknamed “Rapid Robert” or “Bullet Bob”, Feller spent all 18 seasons of his career with the Indians. He posted a 266-162 career record (.621 winning percentage) with a 3.25 ERA. He pitched 3,827 innings for the Indians and recorded 2,581 career strikeouts.

Not surprisingly, Feller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, earning 93.8 percent of the votes in his first time on the ballot. His No. 19 uniform was retired by the Indians in 1957.

Next: Nap Lajoie

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