Bob Feller passed last week and so did a little of baseball history. Richard Goldstein’s NY Times article is the best write up on the pitching legend.
In my youth, my father and I bonded over baseball like so many Americans. We had a different twist in that we also collected autographed baseballs from Hall of Famers. From the ages of 10-12, I was able to collect every living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bob Feller was one of the first and the first autograph I paid for. It was at a baseball card show at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Mr. Feller was sitting at a folding table with several different 8×10 photos purchase and he would autograph for an extra dollar. Yes, $1. I am pretty sure the photo and the signature totaled $5. I remember my dad explaining on the way home that players from his era did not make what they did today (this was in 1983 or 84). They did not have a pension or any of those other benefits. What I really remember was how personal he made each signature. He talked to me and wanted to know my name and what position I played. He spent a good 4-5 minutes with everyone who wanted his signature. I remember it so well because I would come to learn that experience was the exception, like Bob Feller was most of his life, rather than the rule.