CLEVELAND - Bob Feller, the Iowa farm boy whose powerful right arm earned him the nickname "Rapid Robert" and made him one of baseball's greatest pitchers during a Hall of Fame career with the Cleveland Indians, has died. He was 92.
Feller died at 9:15 last night of acute leukemia at a hospice, said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' vice president of public relations.
Remarkably fit until late in life, Feller had suffered serious health setbacks in recent months. He was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in August, and while undergoing chemotherapy, he fainted and his heart briefly stopped. Eventually, he underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted. In November, he was hospitalized with pneumonia and Feller was recently released into hospice care.
Even as his health deteriorated, Feller continued doing what he loved most - attending Indians games deep into last season.
"Nobody lives forever and I've had a blessed life," Feller said in September. "I'd like to stay on this side of the grass for as long as I can, though. I'd really like to see the Indians win a World Series."
Feller, in fact, was part of the rotation the last time the Indians won it all - in 1948.
Fiercely proud and patriotic, Feller was an American original. He won 266 games during 18 seasons - all with the Indians, who brought him up to the majors as a 17-year old. Feller's win total remains a Cleveland team record, one that seems almost untouchable in today's free-agent era.
Feller finished with 2,581 career strikeouts, led the American League in strikeouts seven times, pitched three no-hitters - including the only one on Opening Day - and recorded a jaw-dropping 12 one-hitters.
The first pitcher to win 20 games before he was 21, Feller was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1962, his first year of eligibility.