Sunday, December 19, 2010

Non-AMC Post.... in Memory of Bob Feller, Cleveland Legend

I was on my way home from FL back in May of '07, for good this time, after my dad's illness.  I had to get home and get my house ready because he and mom were moving in.  I was on stand by at the airport.  It's a little tricky in Orlando.  Tricky maybe isn't the right word, but there are a lot more people all trying to get home from Disney or whatever, so stand by could have you sitting there for who knows how long until you finally get on a plane.  I checked in and found a seat to wait out my fate.

I was just sitting there, kind of daydreaming about all that had happened in the last eight weeks when an older gentlemen sat down next to to me.  I glanced over at him.  Then again.  And then again.  And finally I said, "excuse me, but are you Bob Feller?"  He looked at me with a smile and said, "yes I am" and put his hand out for me to shake.

If you're not from Cleveland or not a big baseball fan, you may not know who Bob Feller is, so let me enlighten you.  Bob Feller is the winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history.  He is a Hall of Famer.  He was a living legend.  And he was my mom's all time favorite player ever and I've been hearing about how great he is my whole life.  In the days when mom took the bus to the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium and sat in the bleachers for 25¢.  If I heard that once, I heard it 5,000 times.

Bob Feller!!!   I was pretty excited.  He was known then as a curmudgeonly old coot who remembers ever single stat he ever put out.  But to me, he was nice as could be.  Not the least bit cranky or curmudgeonly.  We talked for a good 10 minutes.... about my dad, about his son he was visiting and the speech he had made while in Orlando.  About my mom being his biggest fan and about how I may or may not get on the plane.  He was so kind and very content to sit and talk to me until the plane started boarding.  He was in first class so he was called to board first.   And as he got up to leave, he turned back to me and said, "I hope you get on the plane."  I thanked him and resumed my wait.  I was so taken with just talking to him, I never even thought to ask for an autograph or to take a picture.  Doh!

A woman sitting nearby, who apparently witnessed my excitement at meeting him, turned to me and said, "Who was that?"  I looked at her with an "are you kidding me look" and said, "That was Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller!"  She replied, "well I guess that made your day."  Damn right it did!  Coming off the worst eight weeks of my life, and probably the most horrendous airport experience I will ever have (which is a different story altogether), hunkering down next to a legend is pretty sweet!  

I did get on that plane and when he saw me boarding he gave me a big smile and said, "you made it" with a thumbs up.  Bob Feller!!!   

He passed away this week at the ripe old age of 92.  Thanks for being such a great guy Bob and taking the time to just sit and talk.   A true legend, a gentleman and a beautiful memory I will never forget.


mimi of 6 said...

Great story, Kathy! I can feel how excited you were to meet Bob, and what a terrific tale to tell Mom when you got the parents home with you. I heard about his death this week and am happy to have a backstory of his life to read about.

Thanks for sharing!

OVN administrator said...

What a treat! Every time I watched a Sox game from Cleveland, Hawk Harrelson would acknowledge Mr. Feller, and the camera would go to him. He always seemed to have the same disposition, winning or losing. What kind of $$$million contract would he have been given today?

Jeannette1005 said...

Thank you for that beautiful story!!!

JuliedP said...

Beautiful story Kathy!

Kathy said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed my story! I really love sharing that one :)

Gretchen said...

That is so cool, Kathy. Reminded me of the day I met Gordie Howe - only you got to spend more time with Mr. Feller.

He was one class act.

annieb said...

a great story, kathy, thanks for sharing. as a lifelong redsox fan, i have had a few encounters such as the one you described. the older athletes, the real pros, tend to be much more kind and likely to engage in a nice conversation. some of the new breed? not so much!! i could tell you a roger clemens story that would blow your mind. i'm so happy to hear that mr feller lived up to your impression of him. lucky you!!