Like a Bob Feller fastball, the news snuck up quietly at first. A report on an Iowa TV station.
Then, it exploded.
48 years after his Hall of Fame induction, Bob Feller died of complications from acute myeloid leukemia.
He was 92.
Feller had been in hospice care for the terminally ill since December 8. His death wasn’t unexpected, but it was still a blow to fans and collectors. Feller was one of a small and shrinking number of living players who competed against the likes of Lou Gehrig.
He was one of the hobby’s first autograph guests, appearing at shows all over the country, charging a small fee. Much of the money went into his museum in Iowa.
Feller first appeared on baseball cards during late 1936 and 1937 (OPC, R314 and Wheaties) and is the only player to appear in both vintage Topps and Goudey issues, spanning from the late 1930s to the 1950s.
It was a remarkable run of cardboard, but it only mirrored what Feller did on the diamond. He won 266 games and struck out over 2500 hitters despite missing the prime of his career to service in World War II. He pitched three no-hitters including the only one ever pitched on Opening Day.
It seemed like he might live forever.
Feller’s autograph was in 2010 Topps Tribute and he was still giving interviews last spring, including this one with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer in which he talked about a number of topics including how he had to buy back one of his old bats–the one Babe Ruth leaned on to give his final Yankee Stadium Farewell.