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Bob Feller: Thanks for the Gift, Son!

(Source: Goudey Wide Pen) 1936 - Bob Feller.

It was a beautiful day for baseball on Mother’s Day, 1939, when Bob Feller and the Cleveland Indians were playing the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

On the mound for the Indians was the 21-year old star and future Hall of FamerBob Feller. He had grown up in Van Meter, Iowa, a sleepy little farming village just southwest of Des Moines.

After pitching in high school ball with great success, he was signed by the Indians at the age of 17 and went directly into the Majors. He was so immediately successful as a rookie, he made the cover of “Time“ Magazine on April 19, 1937.

Even though he had been pitching for three years, Bob Feller‘s parents, Bill and Lena Feller, had never seen their son pitch in the Major Leagues, so Bob thought it was a wonderful gift to invite them and some of their friends to a Mother’s Day game. Since they were in Chicago, they were only 330 miles from home.

After traveling from Iowa to Chicago the day before, the Feller Family finally arrived in Chicago, and were met by their son there. He showed them around a little, and told them how to get to the ballpark the next day. He was glad to spend some time with them both, and see some of their friends as well.

The next day Bob was pitching against the White Sox, and in the 3rd inning, Bob threw a fastball to White Sox third baseman Marv Owen. He hit the ball, and it flew out into the stands – a foul. But there was a sudden commotion in the park.

The ball had flown and despite the attempts of her husband, it hit a woman in the crowd square in her eye. It was Lena Feller!! Park medics were called in, Bob Feller rushed into the stands, and the medics rushed the bleeding Lena and her husband Bill to the hospital.

Bob Feller was saddened by the event, but after the excitement died down, Feller returned to the mound and was able to finish the last six innings of the game, scoring another win for his team.

After the game, Bob rushed to the hospital, and found his mother laying in bed. There was a big bandage across her head, and Bob learned that she had to have three stitches in her face.

Luckily, the ball had not hit her eye directly, but had cut open her left forehead.  A photo was taken of Bob with his mom, dad, and little sister Marguerite that day.

Bill Feller passed away in 1943, and his wife joined him at the Rest Haven North Cemetery in West Des Moines in 1954. I am sure that they were both proud of their son, Bob loved his parents and missed both of them after they passed, but I don’t think they ever went to see another one of his games. The television was a lot safer.

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