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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Cleveland Indians' press box memorializes Bob Feller

By Marla Published: April 1, 2011

The third row seat in the Indians press box normally occupied by Bob Feller has been turned into a shrine to the Hall of Fame pitcher.

His spot bears a plaque on the wall reading "Bob Feller Memorial Press Box Seat.'' Encased in plexiglass is a Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame patch, the No. 19 patch worn on the Tribe uniforms this season, a miniature of Feller in full windup, a picture of Feller in the seat, a program from Thursday's memorial service and a cast of his hand gripping a baseball.

During the memorial service3 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio govenor John Kasich speculated on what Feller is doing in heaven. Feller passed away Dec. 15 at age 92.

"I have no doubt in my mind the Lord's got his arm around him and he's saying, 'Bob, when you come up here, you tell it like it is,''' Kasich said. "He threw it 107 mph, he's probably throwing about 170 and I'll bet he's throwing at the inside corner.''

Kasich said he hoped more fans would take note of the statue of Feller that has stood outside the East Ninth Street gate at Progressive Field since it opened in 1994.

"We're all going to be looking at that statue for the rest of our lives,'' Kasich said. "Bob never got old. He may have aged, but he never got old. He's frozen in time. That young, handsome, athletic, strong man who's enshrined as long as Cleveland shall exist, in front of that stadium sending a message to every kid -- love of country, character, love of God, principled, outspoken, courage -- every time they go past that statue. Some of us may need to stand in front of that statue and get their attention, 'No, you're not going to text when you walk past Bob Feller. There's too important a message here.'''

Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, said the  MVP award at the annual Hall of Fame Classic during Father's Day weekend will be named after Feller. Feller pitched in the exhibition game featuring Hall of Fame players and retired stars starting in 2000 and continued through age 90.

"He called me the day he received his letter in 2000 and said, 'I'll be there and I'd like to start. I don't know how long I'll be able to pitch, but I've had plenty of time to rest my arm,''' Idelson said.

Bill Tunnell, executive director of the USS Alabama, recalled the last time Feller visited the World War II battleship he served on, which is docked in Mobile, Ala.

"The last time he was there in April, 2010, he took me and several of my staff members around the ship,'' Tunnell said. "What a history lesson, what an incredible memory that man had.

"While resting in bed in hospice in December, Bob was reminded that on that day 69 years earlier he had enlisted in the Navy. Bob smiled.''

In 1992, when the Alabama staff was planning for 50th anniversary of commissioning of the ship, they called Feller and invited him to the celebration.

"He said, ''Sure, I'll be there. 'll be there in Denver the day before for the Old-Timers Game, but I can probably make it,''' Tunnell said. "I got someone to pick him up, the assistant chief of police of Mobile, I told him 'I need a blue light special to get a guest to the park. I said, 'Bob Feller.' There was absolute silence. I said, 'Ron, are you there?' He said, 'I'm reading his book right now.'''



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