PDA

View Full Version : Bob Feller forgot to take his meds tonight



RFS62
08-15-2007, 08:24 PM
He was just on ESPN's broadcast of the Tigers - Indians game, and he was asked how fast he threw back in the day.

He said 102 with regularity, and up to 107 at times, but he couldn't keep up the 107 for an entire game.

He was a great pitcher, no doubt. But what a cranky old nut job he's become in his old age.

107. Yep.

Always Red
08-15-2007, 08:30 PM
That reminds me of the curious case of Sid Finch.

Feller needs to stop talking.

GAC
08-15-2007, 09:13 PM
He was just on ESPN's broadcast of the Tigers - Indians game, and he was asked how fast he threw back in the day.

He said 102 with regularity, and up to 107 at times, but he couldn't keep up the 107 for an entire game.

He was a great pitcher, no doubt. But what a cranky old nut job he's become in his old age.

107. Yep.


He's cranky indeed. And definitely a loose cannon.

I guess we'll have to take his word for it since there wasn't the technology available then to accurately gauge how hard a pitcher threw then.

But I strongly doubt the old fart's contention. ;)

George Anderson
08-15-2007, 09:29 PM
He's cranky indeed. And definitely a loose cannon.



I was just waiting for them to bring up Pete Rose, thats when the old crank really goes off the deep end!!!

flyer85
08-15-2007, 09:42 PM
I have seen some anaylsis dpne of old videos that supposedly calculated that Feller threw over 100 mph.

RedFanAlways1966
08-15-2007, 09:58 PM
I have seen some anaylsis dpne of old videos that supposedly calculated that Feller threw over 100 mph.

From Baseball Library...

In 1940, the folks were wondering just how fast Feller really was. Of course, radar guns weren’t around back then, so a test was set up: the plan was for a motorcycle traveling at a speed of 86-miles-per-hour to pass Feller at the exact moment he threw at a target 60 feet, six inches away. When all was said and done, it was determined that the baseball had traveled 104 mph.

KoryMac5
08-15-2007, 10:04 PM
From The Baseball Hall of Fame:

The 17-year-old farm boy with the "heater from Van Meter" struck out 15 men in his first major league start, occurring between his junior and senior years in high school. How fast was Bob Feller? He was once clocked at throwing a pitch 107.9 miles per hour.

Unassisted
08-15-2007, 10:10 PM
I guess we'll have to take his word for it since there wasn't the technology available then to accurately gauge how hard a pitcher threw then.


Exactly the point I was going to make. Radar units in Feller's heyday were bigger than automobiles and pitching in front of one probably wouldn't have been a very healthy thing to do.

Too bad the ESPNites didn't ask him his opinion of Barry Bonds. I'll bet that answer would have made for a dandy soundbite, too. ;)

Cyclone792
08-15-2007, 10:18 PM
From BTF ... I've heard the story about Feller being recorded at 98.6 mph by a US military device, and I would believe that. But 107 mph is a bit of a stretch, Bob ...

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/discussion/27400


Shameless self-promotion dept... I wrote a magazine article on a similar topic a couple years ago. Here it is, in case anyone's interested...

THE 105-MPH BARRIER

Call it the 105-mph barrier. The baseball equivalent of the sound barrier or the four-minute mile, it’s the upper limit, that magical speed barrier no human being can surpass. And until some pitching equivalent of Chuck Yeager or Roger Bannister comes along, there will probably be no shortage of pitchers trying to throw the baseball faster than anyone has ever thrown it before.

Of course, nobody keeps official records of such things, but it appears the highest reading ever spit out by a radar gun is 103 mph, which has been reached at least twice: by the Braves’ Mark Wohlers in 1995 and the Tigers’ Matt Anderson in 1998. In fact, even the pitching machine sold by the Jugs company maxes out at 104 mph, so it’s a pretty safe bet that no hitter has ever had to face a pitch traveling faster than that.

“A velocity of 105 miles per hour is probably about the maximum you can expect,” says Robert Adair, a Yale physics professor and author of the popular book The Physics of Baseball. “Pitchers can’t throw faster than that for the same reason nobody broad jumps 40 feet. There’s nothing magic about it; there are simply limits to what human beings can do.” The speed of a blazing fastball equates closely with the fastest reported speeds in softball (104 mph) and cricket (100.4), but pales in comparison to other sports such as badminton (161.5 mph), tennis (163.6), and jai alai (188) – all of which achieve their high speeds using equipment other than the human body, such as a racket.

According to Adair, the typical pitch will slow down about one mile per hour for every eight feet it travels, meaning that, say, a Robb Nen fastball traveling 104 mph when released will only be going 96 when it crosses the plate. Radar guns take many different speed readings during the ball’s flight and instantly average them, producing the little red number that shows up on the display screen. If those red numbers seem to be higher now than ever before, there’s good reason for it. The most common radar gun in the 1980s, the Ra-Gun, never clocked a pitcher at over 100 mph, and gave readings that were consistently slower than today’s common Jugs brand guns. Measuring the same pitcher at the same time, the newer gun will consistently show a speed 4 to 6 mph faster than the old one. The reason for the difference, manufacturers say, is that the two brands take different numbers of readings into account when computing the average speed of each pitch.

The first scientific test of a pitcher’s speed came in 1912, when pitchers Walter Johnson and Nap Rucker visited the Remington Arms Plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to have their velocity tested by a chronograph, a device that required the pitchers to throw the ball through a set of copper wires spaced five feet apart. (It was usually used to measure the velocity of speeding bullets.) Not only were the two men pitching in street clothes and on flat ground, but the device measured the pitches at the end of their flight, after they’d lost several miles per hour of initial speed. Johnson tested at 83 mph, Rucker at 77. Two years later Johnson was tested again, this time on a ballistic pendulum. “You throw the ball, and it sticks in clay or mud or something, and the pendulum swings up on impact,” Adair says. “By measuring how high the pendulum swings up, you can calculate how fast the ball goes, and you can do it quite accurately.” The device measured Johnson at 99.7 mph.

In 1946, Bob Feller was tested at Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds on a military device that used photoelectric cells to measure speed. His pitch had an average speed of 98.6 mph, meaning the ball was likely traveling 102 or faster when it left his hand. Never one for modesty, Feller often claimed to possess films that actually proved the initial velocity of his pitch was 117 mph – a claim Adair scoffs at. “No way,” the physicist says. “Some people are naïve and claim to have films showing an object traveling at such-and-such a speed, but they just don’t understand the distortions that can come into photography.”

Though there’s no consensus on the matter, the pitcher most often cited as the fastest of all time never even made it to the majors. Steve Dalkowski, a 5-foot-10 lefthander in the Orioles farm system, was so fast (and so wild) that one of his pitches tore off a batter’s ear in the Appalachian League. Another time he broke a batter’s arm; another time, he shattered an umpire’s mask, putting the ump in the hospital. In 1958, Dalkowski’s speed was tested using the same device that had measured Feller 12 years earlier. The cards were stacked against Dalkowski – he had pitched the night before, he was throwing in street clothes, he was on flat ground instead of a mound, and he was so wild that it took him 80 pitches to even get one inside the device’s measuring range – yet he still clocked at either 96.8 or 98.6 mph, depending on who you believe. Dalkowski’s longtime catcher and manager, Cal Ripken Sr., always insisted that under better conditions the reading would have been 110 mph. An alcoholic with a reported IQ of 65, Dalkowski never learned to control either his demons or his fastball. He ended his nine-year minor league career with a record of 46-80.

Of course, there was at least one pitcher who broke the elusive 105 mph barrier with room to spare. That was Sidd Finch, the tall, reclusive left-hander from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, who in the spring of 1985 entered Mets training camp under a shroud of secrecy. Finch was a Harvard dropout, an aspiring monk, and a world-class French horn player – and he could also throw a baseball 168 miles per hour with perfect control. New York fans went into a frenzy when George Plimpton broke the story in Sports Illustrated, salivating over the magazine’s photos of the goofy-looking Finch working out with the Mets. But tellingly, Plimpton’s article quoted no physicists explaining how it was humanly possible to throw that fast. Even more tellingly, the story was published in the SI issue dated April 1, 1985. After a few days of chaos, people realized they had fallen for the mother of all April Fool’s jokes.

After decades of random, somewhat unreliable speed tests, baseball’s radar gun era began in the mid-1970s when Danny Litwhiler, an ex-major leaguer then serving as baseball coach at Michigan State University, acquired a police radar gun and found it useful in measuring his pitchers. Litwhiler quickly began spreading the gospel of the gun, and the device made its first major league appearance in 1975 when the era’s two influential pitching dynasties, the Orioles and Dodgers, began using it. Over the past three decades it has revolutionized the game, especially in scouting. Since a prospect’s fastball is the only thing about him that can be objectively measured, more emphasis was placed on finding hard-throwing pitchers than ever before. In recent years, though, the pendulum has begun to swing back the other way. Teams that emphasize baseball skills more than raw potential – like the Oakland A’s and Houston Astros – have discovered quality players whom teams obsessed with speed hadn’t even considered. “Velocity is extremely important; however, I think we probably put a little too much importance on it,” admits Doug Laumann, director of scouting for the White Sox.

While hitting three digits is always impressive, the ability to throw a single 102 mph pitch – as ex-Devil Ray Jim Morris did in his famous 1999 tryout – is meaningless to many scouts. “When I want a scout to tell me how hard a guy’s throwing, I don’t want him to tell me what his one particular fastest pitch was,” Laumann says. “I want him to tell me, 80 percent of the time, what does this guy pitch at? It’s an average of all the pitches that we look for.”

Even though the radar gun is the most reliable device yet invented, it’s far from foolproof. In addition to the speed differences between the guns themselves, the readings can be affected by a number of other factors, such as where the gun is positioned in relation to the pitcher, whether the pitch being measured is high or low in the strike zone, the marksmanship of the scout using the gun, and the presence of other radar guns in the vicinity. “When there’s too many of them in the same spot, they don’t seem to be real accurate,” Laumann says. “Some of these games you go to, there’s 60 guys with guns, and you might as well just lock it up and put it back in your car.”

So who’s the fastest of all time? Nolan Ryan, Dalkowski, Feller, and the two Johnsons – Randy and Walter – are all good candidates, and all have been measured between 98.6 and 102 mph. But of course, those results are dependent on pitching conditions as well as the accuracy of the measurements. While Dalkowski’s speed was measured on only one pitch, Randy Johnson has probably had a radar gun aimed at every major league pitch he’s ever thrown. And many legendary speedballers, including Satchel Paige, Amos Rusie, Sandy Koufax, and Smokey Joe Williams, were apparently never measured at all, their speed now relegated to the world of anecdotes, tall tales, and grainy films. The identity of the fastest pitcher in baseball history will never be known for certain – which is exactly what makes it such a great debate.

If radar gun readings are so dependent on conditions, then what’s the ideal environment for the 105 mph barrier to be broken? As with hitters, it helps to be in Denver. Because gravity’s downward pull on the ball is strongest at sea level, the higher the elevation, the easier it is to throw fast. “A fastball is actually a shade faster at Coors Field than it is at Shea Stadium,” Adair says. “It’s not a big difference, but it’s measurable. And wind makes a difference too. If you’ve got a 10 mph wind behind you, I’d expect you’re going to gain a mile per hour or so on your fastball.” If you want to set records, then, take Randy Johnson on a day he has his good fastball, put him in Coors Field with a 30-mph gust at his back, and look out.

So is it possible that one day some Finchian pitcher will come along and break the speed record to smithereens, as Bob Beamon did with the long jump record at the 1968 Olympics? Not likely, the experts say. As training and strengthening methods improve, there could be some very slight increases in top velocities. But forget about breaking the 105 mph barrier; today’s pitchers have likely reached the upper limits of human performance. Says Adair: “I don’t think you’re ever going to see someone who throws the ball faster than Randy Johnson.”

KronoRed
08-16-2007, 12:44 AM
Maybe the radar guns were on juice ;)

Eric_Davis
08-16-2007, 01:27 AM
Feller could sign his autograph in .2 seconds.

They didn't call him "BMF" for nothing.

RedsBaron
08-16-2007, 06:42 AM
I was just waiting for them to bring up Pete Rose, thats when the old crank really goes off the deep end!!!

True. The funny thing is that Feller has also advocated that Shoeless Joe Jackson be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Maybe it is just me, but that has always struck me as being just a tad inconsistent to be so vocal in opposition to Rose being reinstated to baseball while being a supporter of Jackson.
Feller was a great pitcher, and I respect his volunteering for military service in WWII, but "cranky old nut job" is right.

dabvu2498
08-16-2007, 08:27 AM
I was at the Tribe-Yanks series this past weekend at the Jake. Satruday night was Indians Hall of Fame night and they were inducting four new members. Feller was on field for the ceremonies and was waving and taking bows whenever he crowd displayed any affection at all, even when not directed at him. It was somewhat bizarre.

GAC
08-16-2007, 09:23 AM
From Baseball Library...

In 1940, the folks were wondering just how fast Feller really was. Of course, radar guns weren’t around back then, so a test was set up: the plan was for a motorcycle traveling at a speed of 86-miles-per-hour to pass Feller at the exact moment he threw at a target 60 feet, six inches away. When all was said and done, it was determined that the baseball had traveled 104 mph.

Now that is accuracy. :lol:

nate
08-16-2007, 09:29 AM
Maybe it was a metric gun?

Johnny Footstool
08-16-2007, 09:41 AM
Lou: We're playing the Indians today.

Bud: Indians, eh? Feller pitching?

Lou: Of course there's a fella pitching. What do you think they'd use, a girl?

Always Red
08-16-2007, 09:42 AM
We need to get those "Myth-Busters" guys from the Discovery Channel on this case!

mth123
08-16-2007, 07:54 PM
Lou: We're playing the Indians today.

Bud: Indians, eh? Feller pitching?

Lou: Of course there's a fella pitching. What do you think they'd use, a girl?

A classic.

Spitball
08-16-2007, 08:09 PM
But what a cranky old nut job he's become in his old age.

Yes he has become a cranky old nut job. I met him back in the late '80's, and he was very unpleasant to everyone that day.

RedsBaron
08-16-2007, 08:18 PM
If major league baseball had constructed a "Mount Rushmore" of its four greatest stars in the 1940s, the faces chisled into stone would have been those of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Bob Feller. They were easily the game's best known and highest regarded players.
Sixty some years later, DiMaggio and Williams remain icons. The Yankee Clipper was celebrated in song by Simon & Garfunkel. He was named as baseball's "greatest living player" in professional baseball's centennial in 1969. His 56 game hitting streak is often cited as one of baseball's most glamorous and least likely to be broken records. DiMaggio married another American icon in Marilyn Monroe. He remains a subject of new biographies.
Ted Williams remains major league baseball's last .400 hitter, another glamorous and celebrated mark. Often still called the greatest hitter who ever lived, he unquestionably was hitting's most vocal and knowledgable apostle. Robert Redford wore number 9 in "The Natural" in homage to Teddy Ballgame. Williams's introduction before the 1998 All-Star game at Fenway Park remains a signature moment. With his military service in two wars and his unflinching personality, Williams has been called the person whom John Wayne wanted to be when he grew up. He too remains a popular literary subject.
Both DiMaggio and Williams were voted onto baseball's All Century Team in 1999.
The luster of the other two superstars of the 1940s has faded. Musial, a largely colorless player even in his prime, is almost forgotten today. He was omitted in fan voting from the All Century Team. When added to the team by the Commissioner, there were protests that someone else (Clemente) was more deserving. The protesters were wrong, and ignorant, but Stan the Man is rarely given his due today.
Then there is Feller. In the 1940s Rapid Robert was setting records for strikeouts and no-hitters. He was the dominant pitcher in the game, and so celebrated that he could be mentioned in the Abbott & Costello skit mentioned earlier and even casual fans knew of him and got the joke. Now, he is somewhat forgotten. Nolan Ryan has broken his records. Ryan was never as good a pitcher as Feller, yet it was Ryan, not Feller, on the All Century Team, and the Commissioner did not add Feller to the team, nor was there an outcry over that omssion.
Old ballplayers have been cranky and have complained that players were better in their day for more than a century. Feller was outspoken when young, so it is not surprsing that he is outspoken and a crank in his old age. I wonder if he is not also unusually bitter about his loss of stature, a forgotten legend whose greatest glories occurred before color TV and ESPN.

Spitball
08-16-2007, 10:46 PM
Then there is Feller. In the 1940s Rapid Robert was setting records for strikeouts and no-hitters. He was the dominant pitcher in the game, and so celebrated that he could be mentioned in the Abbott & Costello skit mentioned earlier and even casual fans knew of him and got the joke. Now, he is somewhat forgotten. Nolan Ryan has broken his records. Ryan was never as good a pitcher as Feller, yet it was Ryan, not Feller, on the All Century Team, and the Commissioner did not add Feller to the team, nor was there an outcry over that omssion.
Old ballplayers have been cranky and have complained that players were better in their day for more than a century. Feller was outspoken when young, so it is not surprsing that he is outspoken and a crank in his old age. I wonder if he is not also unusually bitter about his loss of stature, a forgotten legend whose greatest glories occurred before color TV and ESPN.

Your total post was really great, RB. You have pointed out some very valid points. As for Fellar, it should also be pointed out that there are not any batters any where near the top of the all-time strikeout list from his era. He was striking out batters when batters tried very hard to avoid strikeouts.

However, he is still a grouch...;)

cumberlandreds
08-17-2007, 06:55 AM
Great post,RedsBaron! It's a shame Feller has become such a crank and that bitterness has taken over. He could be a wonderful link to the past but has chosen to be a bitter old man who thinks the players of today couldn't carry his jockstrap.

GAC
08-17-2007, 09:29 AM
Wasn't it Feller who vehemently came out piblically against Rose ever being in the HOF?

Cyclone792
08-17-2007, 12:11 PM
Then there is Feller. In the 1940s Rapid Robert was setting records for strikeouts and no-hitters. He was the dominant pitcher in the game, and so celebrated that he could be mentioned in the Abbott & Costello skit mentioned earlier and even casual fans knew of him and got the joke. Now, he is somewhat forgotten. Nolan Ryan has broken his records. Ryan was never as good a pitcher as Feller, yet it was Ryan, not Feller, on the All Century Team, and the Commissioner did not add Feller to the team, nor was there an outcry over that omssion.

Old ballplayers have been cranky and have complained that players were better in their day for more than a century. Feller was outspoken when young, so it is not surprsing that he is outspoken and a crank in his old age. I wonder if he is not also unusually bitter about his loss of stature, a forgotten legend whose greatest glories occurred before color TV and ESPN.

Good stuff, RB.

To me, for one reason or another, Feller does come off as someone who feels like he's been slighted about a loss of stature. What's sort of interesting about Feller and a loss of stature is if WWII never happened, I'd bet Feller would be remembered as an all-time great much more than actually is now. He lost nearly four peak seasons to WWII, and he was winning around 25 games per season during those years in the early to mid 1940s when he was pitching. If Feller actually had his peak years (and I'm assuming he'd have stayed healthy), it's not out of the question that he could have 350 wins instead of his actual total of 266 wins. And if he had around 350 wins, people would be holding him in exceptionally high regard.

But instead, Feller served in WWII, saw more combat than probably any other notable big league player, and lost all that playing time through the peak of his career, and hence, a lower stature among all-time greats in many casual fans' eyes most likely.

RedsBaron
08-17-2007, 01:22 PM
What's sort of interesting about Feller and a loss of stature is if WWII never happened, I'd bet Feller would be remembered as an all-time great much more than actually is now. He lost nearly four peak seasons to WWII, and he was winning around 25 games per season during those years in the early to mid 1940s when he was pitching. If Feller actually had his peak years (and I'm assuming he'd have stayed healthy), it's not out of the question that he could have 350 wins instead of his actual total of 266 wins. And if he had around 350 wins, people would be holding him in exceptionally high regard.

But instead, Feller served in WWII, saw more combat than probably any other notable big league player, and lost all that playing time through the peak of his career, and hence, a lower stature among all-time greats in many casual fans' eyes most likely.
Feller, like Hank Greenberg, did not wait to be drafted after America's entry into World War II. He enlisted. He's cranky and unlikeable, but his military service deserves respect.
We obviously can never know if Feller would have remained healthy and would have kept racking up 25 win seasons had he been able to play all of the 1942 through 1945 seasons, but Cyclone is absolutely correct: absent his military service, Feller may have topped 350 wins and possibly could still be the all time wins leading since the advent of the "lively ball" era in 1920.