An American Hero in Cooperstown: Bob Feller Returns for Hall of Fame Classic

Legends Game to be Held June 20 at Doubleday Field

May 20, 2010
Hall of Famer Bob Feller will appear at the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Not quite 74 years after he threw his big league pitch, Bob Feller will treat baseball fans to one more appearance from Rapid Robert.

Feller, one of baseball’s most famous fireballers, will take the mound June 20 at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown at the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic. The second-annual Classic Weekend will also feature fellow Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith, along with 20 other former major leaguers in a seven-inning exhibition game, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.

The 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Classic is co-organized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. Ford Motor Company will be the Presenting Sponsor of the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic.

Feller, nicknamed “Rapid Robert” in honor of a fastball that defied the measurement devices of the time, was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, making him the longest-tenured Hall of Famer. The 91-year-old Feller played his whole career in Cleveland with the Indians, winning 266 games with a 3.25 ERA and 2,581 strikeouts. He was selected to eight All-Star Games, won the pitching Triple Crown (leading the league in wins, strikeout and earned-run average) in 1940 and was named the Major League Player of the Year that year as well.

He also threw baseball’s only Opening Day no-hitter in 1940, blanking the White Sox on April 16.

He made his big league debut on July 19, 1936 – about three years before the Hall of Fame opened. In 1937, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine, and in 1941 he was the first major leaguer to enlist in the military following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He spent four years in the Navy as a highly decorated anti-aircraft gunner onboard the USS Alabama and then came back to win 26 games in his first season back with the Indians.

Feller was named Pitcher of the Year in 1951 by The Sporting News. He led the league in wins six times, in strikeouts seven times, complete games three times and shutouts four times. He threw three no-hitters and won 20 or more games six times and won the World Series with the Indians in 1948.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Classic are available online at baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770. Tickets are $12.50 for first and third base seats and $11 for outfield seats. A $3.50 handling charge per ticket applies to phone and online orders. Phone orders will be taken Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT The online ordering system at www.baseballhall.org is available 24 hours per day.

Classic Weekend will feature a slate of family friendly activities, highlighted by the return of the Hall of Fame Classic. Other activities planned for Classic Weekend include the Cooperstown Golf Classic fundraiser for the Museum, a reprise of the popular “Family Catch,” the Youth Skills Clinic hosted by several former major league players, a special Voices of the Game program, and other special programs throughout the Museum.

Among the 20 other recently retired players already committed to participate in the Classic include former major league stars Kevin Bass, Paul Blair, Brian Boehringer, Bert Campaneris, John Doherty, Don DeMola, Jim Hannan, Jay Johnstone, Jeff Kent, Tim Leary, Bill Madlock, Mike Pagliarulo, Dennis Rasmussen, Lee Smith, Rich Surhoff and Mike Timlin. Additional participants will be announced throughout the spring.

The Hall of Fame Classic will be preceded by the Cooperstown Game Day Parade, presented by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, the village of Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, beginning at noon on Main Street. Game participants will ride in the parade on their way to Doubleday Field. The Legends Hitting Contest will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the Hall of Fame Classic at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, June 19, the Museum will present the return of “Family Catch” at Doubleday Field from 12-2 p.m. Beginning at 3 p.m., the Hall of Fame and the MLBPAA will present the Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field, featuring former major league players as instructors. At 7 p.m., the Museum will host a roundtable discussion with the seven Hall of Fame members. Advance registration is required for all events. Please call 607-547-0397 for more information.

For more information on Hall of Fame Classic Weekend events, call 1-888-Hall-of-Fame.

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.