In This Ohio

On The Awesome Power of Bob Feller's Ghost

Darren C. Demaree
The first footage anyone ever saw of Bob Feller involved him throwing a baseball faster than a policeman on a speeding motorcycle. The ball, as it normally did for him, won the battle, beating the cop to the finish line, which for Feller was a white paper target sixty feet from his young, dynamic arm. Things actually went up for Feller from that mythical beginning.

Bob Feller was a decorated World War II hero, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who until the age of ninety would still be the starting pitcher in their annual game, and without a doubt he became the greatest Cleveland Indian in the history of the franchise. After his career ended he did everything he could to help the team, the players and the fans, and upon his death this past December he was given an icon’s memorial. Instead of having someone throw the opening pitch this year at Progressive Field, Feller’s wife placed a ball with a message to her hubby “Rapid Robert” on the pitcher’s rubber. He never did make a pitch, ceremonial or not, that was aided by any cheap steps in front of the mound.

So, at the time it really felt like that was a fitting ending to Feller and his beloved Indians. The Tribe went on later that day to get blown out, giving up fifteen runs to the visiting Chicago White Sox, and despite rallying to score some runs in the later innings, the day seemed anticlimactic to the build up of opening day. Surely, this wasn’t what Feller, the Indians all-time leader with 266 wins, would have expected.

So, I think he did something about it.

The Indians lost the next day, falling short in the later innings once again, as the pitching staff gave up eight more runs. It appeared like we were all headed towards another ninety-loss season, which was following a dreadful Lebron-less Cavs season, and another missed playoffs and another fired coach for the Browns.

Then, I think Bob came back. The man, a contemporary of both of my grandfathers, was (as they both were) known to be entirely stubborn, opinionated, and would use his will to create the situation he thought was best for everyone involved. Done his way, things would be all right; he would make sure they would be all right. Thus, the Indians began to impose their own will on their American League counterparts.

Quickly, after the first two losses, the Indians ran off eight straight wins to run their record to 8-2 on the year. During this streak, the starting pitching was great, the bullpen nearly flawless, and the offense averaged nearly six runs a game. The offense was even more impressive because the number three and four hitters, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana were mired in awful slumps.

After the streak the Indians dropped the final two games against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California in whatever county they’re located in, but quickly followed that up with a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles that ended this weekend with Fausto Carmona’s first win of the season.

So, here we are, by the grace of Bob Feller, 11-4, and in first place of the American League Central. Tomorrow, we roll into Kansas City with another win streak going, and a chance to put some real distance between the also surprising Royals and us. If the Indians can keep this going for another week or two, the rest of the fans will believe what the team already believes, they're ready to win now.

I can’t guarantee that Bob will be bothered to guide us the whole season, and I imagine if there is a heaven he’ll be too busy pitching high and tight on some real angel who doesn’t respect that the plate is “Rapid Robert’s” and nobody else’s. No matter. Even in death, Feller still believes that the Cleveland Indians have a great season in them every season.

This one’s for you, Bob.