That is simply the most ridiculous statistic I've ever seen in my entire life. The most impressive decade in the history of the human race, bar none. And before I even get to how preposterous it was what Bob Feller did from 1938 to 1948, let me first say what everyone reading this blog is thinking:
Thank you for your service, Mr. Feller. And I hope you're resting in peace.
Could you imagine this happening in today's world? I mean, to answer my own question: No I cannot even imagine it. The last time a Major League Pitcher even led the MLB in strikeouts for 4 straight years was Randy Johnson from 1999 to 2002. So then, all Randy Johnson would need to do from there is drop everything, enlist in the military, go fight in a war for 4 years, and then come right back and do it again. Simply unfathomable. But that's exactly what Bob Feller did.
After spending 6 full seasons in Major League Baseball, and being at the absolute top of the game (remember we're talking Randy Johnson in his prime type level), Bob Feller was driving on his way to meet the Indians general manager to discuss his new contract when he heard on the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. That was on December 7th.
On December 9th, Chief Petty Officer Robert Feller was sworn into the US Navy.
He had a family-related draft exemption. He did not have to do this…..he chose to. This is Pat Tillman type of stuff. Tears in your eyes just to think about it type of stuff. Bravery. Courage. American Pride. And obviously not taking ANYTHING away from the incredible Pat Tillman and his story, but Bob Feller was the best pitcher in the world at the time he decided to do this. My brain just can't wrap around this. This would be like LeBron walking away from the game to go fight in a war. Or Pat Mahomes hanging up the cleats and putting on the boots. Simply inconceivable.
And then after 4 years serving in the US Navy, fighting in the North Atlantic, Panama Canal, and central Pacific, Bob Feller was finally able to return home. In the third week of August, just 15 days after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Bob Feller went inactive from the US Military.
AND PITCHED FOR THE CLEVELAND INDIANS ON AUGUST 23RD!!!!!!
And he picked up right where he left off. He went on to lead the MLB in strikeouts again for the following three seasons and win the 1948 World Series.
266 career wins. 2,581 strikeouts. 8x All-Star. 6x wins leader. 7x strikeout leader. 3 no-hitters. And 4 years fighting in World War II sandwiched in-between all of that.
Folks, Chief Petty Officer Robert Feller just shot up my big board to the #1 pitcher of all time. It's not even close.