Thursday, March 08, 2007

Indians' Immortal Bob "Inky" Feller
Still Pitching Even As He Nears 90

The New York Times had
this nice little piece yesterday on Indians' immortal Bob Feller, who's still as active as ever on the nostalgia circuit, at 88. First inducted into Cooperstown in 1962, he's been enshrined in baseball's hall of fame now for more than half his life. An attractive cast-iron statue of "Rapid Robert" graces the Ninth Street entrance to Jacobs Field, one of the park's nicer touches. It's long since become the signature meeting place for fans to find each other before heading into the stadium.

In some circles, though, he's become equally famous (perhaps infamous) for shameless buckraking. Writers have long traded stories about how he insists on being paid for his autograph, even at book-signings (the Times says that money goes to his museum in his native Iowa). What it doesn't say is that Feller's extreme capitalism is hardly of recent vintage. Bob Feller, you see, was truly a man ahead of his time.

Some years ago, while I was reporting a story about the endorsement side of Major League Baseball, longtime Tribe PR man Bobby DiBiasio told me Feller's nickname is "Inky." I asked why. "Because he incorporated himself way back when he was still a player."


At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had always been a fan of Bob Feller, received a signed, number photo of him from a great friend for Christmas one year. Ended up being disappointed in the man by attending an art opening in one of the concourses of Hopkins with Feller as a guest celeb. A gentleman on crutches approached Feller, took off his Indians hat and asked Feller to sign. Feller's response, "I'm only signing baseballs and you can buy one over there." The gentle left without an autograph. His picture cam down off my wall.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

What a great addition to the topic, Lou, but what a sad story. You of course are nicely documenting the sadness at the heart of the Bob Feller story, which I only hinted at. Thanks for bringing the point home so explicitly.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Feller may have been a great pitcher but he fails as a human being.

You might remember that he objected to Muhammada Ali tossing out the first pitch at an all-star game and called him - because of his change of religion and objections to serving in Vietnam - "Disgusting."

He also called Wilie Mays a "hotdog" and has made racial comments about Latin players.

Not exactly someone you'd want around, especially around your children.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

No, I wasn't aware of all that, Roldo. But then, neither does it come as too much of a surprise, either. I suppose he's a product of his era and place--there probably weren't a lot of blacks and Hispanics in Van Meter, Iowa, where he grew up. But he's had 70 years to grow as a person, and he sure doesn't seem to have very much.

I do know that just being around him can cause your flesh to crawl a little. I remember seeing him at some event some years ago, and being instantly turned off by his aura. He's one of those guys who's entirely too pleased with himself, and who regards his public as more of a nuisance to be milked than anything.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may have an extra autographed picture of Bob Feller laying around and i will send one to Roldo and Ettorre so you guys can hang it in your office. thanks.
Matt from River


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