Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bob Feller and the dad who built a batting cage

The death of Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller yesterday is a sad occasion. Feller was the dominant pitcher of his day and a child prodigy. In his big-league debut, while on summer vacation from high school, he struck out 15 batters.

Today's obituary in the New York Times is a good read and reminds me that the present generation of parents is far from the first with big sports dreams for kids.

Check this, and the Feller interview below.

"Robert William Feller was born on Nov. 3, 1918, in Van Meter — population 300 — and grew up nearby on a farm where his father, Bill, devoted himself to hogs, wheat and corn, but most of all to raising a ballplayer.

"Bill Feller and his son listened to live broadcasts of Cubs games from Chicago and to re-creations on WHO Radio in Des Moines by a fledgling sportscaster named Ronald Reagan.

"The father played catch with his son, bought him a Rogers Hornsby model glove and a flannel baseball uniform, and built a batting cage. When Bob was 12, his father leveled pasture land to create a ballpark, complete with bleachers and scoreboard, and formed a team to showcase Bob against players in their late teens and 20s.

“My father loved baseball and he cultivated my talent,” Feller told Donald Honig in his 1975 oral history, “Baseball When the Grass Was Real.” “I don’t think he ever had any doubt in his mind that I would play professional baseball someday.”

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