Feller Ks 12 in return from military service
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After the war ended and Feller was discharged, he came right back to the bump. He was honored with a pregame ceremony where former Cleveland player/manager Tris Speaker presented him with a Jeep, and 46,477 fans packed into Cleveland Stadium to watch the war hero’s return against the Detroit Tigers.
Bob Feller hadn’t pitched in 1,428 days, at least not professionally. When Feller took the mound for the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 24, 1945, it had been nearly four years since he pitched near the end of the 1941 season.
Feller picked up where he left off. He struck out the first batter he faced, Tigers third baseman Jimmy Outlaw. In all, Feller struck out 12 in a complete game effort, only allowing four hits and walking five. His final six and two-thirds innings were hitless, helping Cleveland beat Detroit, 4-2.
He wrapped up his return performance by striking out Outlaw for the second time in the game.
Feller pitched in eight more games in 1945, finishing with a 5-3 record.
Excluding his shortened 1945 season, Feller led the AL in strikeouts seven straight seasons, innings pitched in five seasons and games started in five seasons. His four years away from the sport during his prime took away a chance to build his statistics even higher. But he never seemed to mind.
“It was a war that had to be won,” Feller said to ESPN. “I needed to join the Navy. If you ask the people in Europe who won World War II, they don’t say the Allies, they say the United States won the war and saved the world. Now, I’m no hero – heroes don't come home from war, survivors return from wars. I’m very lucky, you know that.”
Feller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.
Evan Gerike was the 2022 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development