Since December 15, 2010 there have been numerous articles and stories and blog entries telling the life and times of the great Bob Feller. All of those had personal touches by the writers sharing their memories of Bob–whether they were memories from afar (watching him pitch in games), or memories up close with him (interviews, meet and greets, work related, etc.). This entry will start off no different. This is not because I lack creativity, but because I feel a sense of pride and honor that I actually have some up close memories with one of the best pitchers in baseball. Below is just one of them:
My first meeting with Bob was simply as a fan. When I was a little kid, my dad passed down a baseball that was signed by some guy named Bob Feller in 1962 (the date is written under the autograph). Not knowing anything about baseball at the time, I thought it was cool but had no idea who this guy was and why my dad thought it was a big deal for me to put it in a safe place. I did as I was told and forgot about the ball. After growing up and learning the game, I eventually learned who Bob Feller was and the “coolness” of the baseball grew.
In college, we went down to Winter Haven, Florida (apparently we thought Winter Haven was the spring break capital of the world instead of Daytona Beach–we were quite mistaken)! I heard that Bob Feller was signing autographs, so after a while I made my way down to his picnic table. He was just getting up and had finished signing. As polite as I could, I said, “Mr. Feller…can I please get your autograph on this ball?” He quickly replied, “I’m done signing for the day. Next time get here on time,” and he walked away. It was quickly made clear that Bob did what he wanted and if he was done…he was done.
Years later, I began working with the Indians and worked a few months down in Spring Training (Winter Haven) and Bob was a frequent visitor. Since I had met him a few times before at the front offices, I thought I would take a chance and bring up the story of when I had first met him (and how he denied my autograph request). Once he heard me tell the story, he said without cracking a smile, “I don’t remember that, but hopefully that taught you to get to places on time.” The next day, he stopped in the office and left an autographed photo on my desk of him pitching to Joe DiMaggio. I have it kept right next to the ball my dad gave me years before.
Today, there was a special ceremony held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights to celebrate the life of Robert William Andrew Feller. The ceremony was open to anyone. Chris Perez, Shin Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Sandy Alomar Jr., Manny Acta, Mike Hargrove, are just some of the Indians front office staff/players that attended.
Governor John Kasich, Jeff Idelson (President of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum), Bill Tunnell (representing the Battleship USS Alabama) and Larry Dolan all spoke at the ceremony. Sports Time Ohio filmed the event and will air it tonight at 6:00 pm.
At 92 years old, there is no doubt that every Cleveland fan has a memory that involves Rapid Robert. He was a local icon, a baseball legend and a national hero and everytime we watch a baseball game, he will always be in our hearts.
In my younger years, I always wanted to do stand up. Not for a living, but just one quick gig. I was smart enough back then to know that I would eventually run out of funny, so it was one gig and done. I even thought of ideas that I could put in my act.
I thought it would be funny to talk about how my girlfriend at the time would pay for things. If something was $14.76, she wouldn’t just pay with a $10 bill and a $5 bill–or even easier–a simple $20. She would give the cashier a ten, four singles and sit there and count out 76 cents. Digging through her purse, she would count as she put the change on the counter, “50, 60, 70, 71, 72, 73…Justin, do you have 3 pennies?”
“No. I don’t. I have a $20, use that.”
“I want to get rid of my change. Oh, here we go! 74, 75 and 76 cents!” She would say as she pulled out a second change purse.
Sometimes she would take it a step further and give the cashier a $10 bill, a $5 bill and a penny so she could get an even quarter back. It was an endless fight on how to correctly pay. I always wondered how she ever got all that change if she always paid the exact amount. Nowadays, I just use a debit card and that’s the end of it. And nowadays, she is married and I’m not, so who was the real winner in that argument?
My story has two points. The first is that I was a comic genius when I was a younger lad. The second is that this story is a great lead in to talk about the Cleveland Indians “Round Up For Charity” program.
The idea is simple, you go to an Indians Team Shop and buy something. Whatever the total amount of your purchase is, you are asked if you want to round up for charity. Of course, being the good people you are, you agree. The total purchase is then rounded up to the nearest dollar and that extra money goes to charity. Example: If your bill was the same as my old girlfriend’s bill of $14.76 and you agree to round up–your bill becomes $15.00 and the 24 cents you rounded up on goes to charity. Fantastic, but what charity?
The four charities that will split the end of the year donation will be Cleveland Indians Charities, Flashes of Hope, The Gathering Place and Stewart’s Caring Place. So the next time you go buy a Carlos Santana jersey, or a good old foam finger; try your best to make it an uneven bill so that you can “Round Up For Charity.”
I can’t say that nothing has been going on since my last entry, because we have been swamped with things going on. To start, I recently returned from our Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Arizona. I was there for about a week for our yearly signing day. This is a day where our all of our front office autographed needs are fulfilled. We have the players come in early before their workouts and have them sign. And sign. And sign. All in all, we had about 4,000 items ranging from baseballs to photos, jerseys and bats get autographed and then authenticated. All in a shade under 3 hours. Not bad.
The majority of the items are used for our in-kind donation requests that come from local charities across the state of Ohio. If you are having a fundraiser, feel free to submit by going to www.indians.com and clicking on the “community” tab. While we try to respond favorably to all requests, there are some that we just can not fulfill based on our guidelines.
What else has been going on? Our Cleveland Indians KeyBank High Achievers Kids Club (yes, it is a mouthful, but totally worth it) just finished the 1st semester of submittals. For those that don’t know, this is a free program for kids ages K-8th grade. They have two opportunities to submit their grades, attendance and reading forms–once for the 1st semester and once for the 2nd semester. They earn STARS based on maintaining A’s and B’s, getting perfect attendance, and reading 3 books per semester. They can then redeem the STARS for prizes at the Team Shops (free game tickets, posters, chances to win meet-and-greets, etc.) For more information on that, go to www.indians.com/highachievers or shoot me a comment and I’ll get you more info.
This Wednesday, we’ll be taking our Indians in the Community program out to the Boys and Girls Club (Broadway Club), where we’ll be hanging out with the kids from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. I’ll have more on that Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
That should cover everything that I wanted to cover. Stay tuned later this week for more information!