Robert William Andrew Feller (November 3, 1918 – December 15, 2010), nicknamed “The Heater from Van Meter”, “Bullet Bob”, and “Rapid Robert”, was an American baseball pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cleveland Indians. Feller pitched from 1936 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1956, interrupted only by a four-year engagement in the Navy. In a career spanning 570 games, Feller pitched 3,827 innings and posted a win–loss record of 266–162, with 279 complete games, 44 shutouts, and a 3.25 earned run average (ERA).
A prodigy who bypassed the minor leagues, Feller first played for the Indians at the age of 17. His career was interrupted by four years of military service in World War II, during which time he served as Chief Petty Officer aboard USS Alabama. Feller became the first pitcher to win 24 games in a season before the age of 21. During his career, he threw no-hitters in 1940, 1946, and 1951. Feller also recorded 12 one-hitters (his no-hitters and one-hitters were records at the time of his retirement). He helped the Indians win a World Series title in 1948 and an American League-record 111 wins and the pennant in 1954. Feller led the American League in wins six times and in strikeouts seven times. In 1946, he recorded 348 strikeouts, a total not exceeded for 19 years. An eight-time All-Star, Feller was ranked 36th on Sporting News’s list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was named the publication’s “greatest pitcher of his time”. He was a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
Baseball Hall of Fame member Ted Williams called Feller “the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career.” Hall of Famer Stan Musial believed he was “probably the greatest pitcher of our era.” He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 on his first ballot appearance; at the time only three players ever had a higher percentage of ballot votes. He was elected the inaugural President of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association and participated in exhibition games which featured players from both the Major and Negro Leagues. Feller died at the age of 92 in 2010.