Three years ago I took my son on the ultimate Father & Son trip to baseball’s Spring Training in Florida. Spring training is at the core of watching sports on a dime. Great baseball tickets for practically nothing. No other major sport provides the opportunity for fans to sit up close and receive so many autographs as spring training. The highlight of our trip was meeting Bob Feller. The majority of the American public didn’t quite comprehend with his passing we truly lost an American hero.
Had we not had the opportunity to meet him and then taken the time to read Bob Feller’s Little Black Book of Baseball Wisdom, I’m sure I wouldn’t have realized what a true American hero he was. Most Americans know Bob Feller was a hall of fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. Many fail to realize he left baseball during the prime of his career to serve his country in World War II. Contrast that sacrifice with the “tough” choice All-Star basketball players face in representing their country every other year to play basketball.
After reading a book on spring training indicating Bob Feller attended almost every Cleveland Indians spring training game, we decided to make Winter Haven one of our stops (the Indians now reside in Goodyear, Arizona for spring training). We were impressed to see him dressed in his full Cleveland Indians uniform. Before the game he warmed up with a young teenager. I hate to admit this but at 90 years old he could throw a baseball faster than I could!
Once the game started, Bob Feller went to a table and signed autographs and took photos with baseball spring training fans for the rest of the game. I’m not aware of another pro athlete let alone a hall of fame baseball pitcher who loved the game enough to spend that kind of time with the fans. If you know of any, please share in the comments section.
The Cleveland Indians Spring training baseball experience just won’t be the same without Bob Feller. I’m grateful for the opportunity we had to meet him and I was able to introduce my son to a living and legendary American hero.