Last Wednesday MLB great Bob Feller passed away at the age of 92. Feller, known as “Rapid Robert” had one of the strongest arms — and one of the fastest fastballs — of all time. “The Heater from Van Meter” (as he was also known) is easily among the top five pitchers to ever play the game. A fact that is even more impressive when you consider Feller, who grew up on a farm in Van Meter, Iowa, left the game during his prime years to join the U.S. war effort in the Pacific. It is this sacrifice that makes Bob Feller not only a great baseball player, but a great American.
The story of Pearl Harbor and Bob Feller’s decision to join the military from Once Upon a Game: Baseball’s Greatest Memories via The New York Times.
“I was driving my new Buick Century across the Mississippi River, across the Iowa-Illinois state line, when my world — everyone’s world — changed forever.
It was Dec. 7, 1941. I was driving to my meeting with my Cleveland Indians bosses to hash out my 1942 contract, and out it came on the radio: the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
The last thing on my mind right then was playing baseball. I immediately decided to enlist in the United States Navy. I didn’t have to — I was 23 and strong-bodied, you bet, but with my father terminally ill back in Van Meter, Iowa, I was exempt from military service.