CLEVELAND -- If anybody could succinctly sum up the beauty of baseball and its metaphoric meanings, Bob Feller could."Every day is a new opportunity," Feller once said. "You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is." Feller certainly made the most of his days, be it on an Iowa farm, where he learned the value of hard work; on the mound, where he staked his claim to his rightful place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame; on the USS Alabama, where he served his country in World War II; or here in Cleveland, where he lived out his days as a regular attendee of his beloved Indians' home games.
The time, sadly, has come for Feller to rest. He passed away Wednesday at the age of 92 after bouts with leukemia and pneumonia. He was baseball's third-oldest living Hall of Famer, behind Lee MacPhail and Bobby Doerr, and arguably the greatest right-hander the game ever saw.As if to prove that latter point, Feller's talents remained on display almost until his dying day. He was a regular at the Indians' annual winter Fantasy Camp, and he tossed out the ceremonial first pitch at nearly all of the Tribe's home Spring Training games. And when he wasn't throwing the ball, the man they called "Rapid Robert" talked it. Sometimes, his comments caused controversy, because Feller was nothing if not brutally honest in his assessments. But more than anything, he was a true ambassador for the game, a vital and vigorous link between baseball's distant past and its present. His story has ended now, but what a story it was. Feller's was an American tale almost too good to be true.