What were you doing when you were 17? Not this that’s for sure. This is 17 year old Bob Feller smiling for the camera after striking out 17 Philadelphia A’s on 9/13/1936. He tied the record set by Dizzy Dean set in 1933. (He would strike out 18 Tigers to set the record again when he was just 19 years old.)
Feller was a boy among men, crying men, men that never saw a right arm quite like this kid from Van Meter Iowa had. Looking at that shit eating grin, you can tell he’s just busting out of his pants(literally) to go run out into the street to scream for joy. You can tell by that impish little grin that he knows he can do it again, and again, and again. What’s it like to smile like that? What’s it like to know you’re the best at what you do? What’s it like to be a kid playing a kids game, and playing it like a man? Ask Bob Feller…he knows.
While checking out Bob Feller’s stats on Baseball Reference, a couple of things jumped out at me. If he didn’t lose 3 years to military service he would have probably had 350 wins, placing him in the top 10. I always think of him as a 3000 K pitcher. He averaged only 6.1 k’s per 9 innings for his career and did not have 3000 strikeouts. After striking out 348 in 1946, he never topped the 200 K mark again. And just for comparison, Nolan Ryan averaged 9.5 k’s per 9, while Randy Johnson averaged 10.5.