Bob Feller was remembered on Thursday as a true great by players ranging from the oldest living Hall of Famer to inductees who entered as recently as 2007
"Bob was just a regular, solid person," said Bobby Doerr, class of '86 and, at 92 years old, the oldest living Hall of Famer. "He was the same guy, all the time. He gave his opinions, and he said what he thought. He didn't hedge around anything. He was one of the top pitchers I saw in my time."
After battling leukemia, Feller passed away on Wednesday at the age of 92. The 18-season big leaguer spent his entire career with the Indians and missed time in his prime to serve his country in World War II. He finished his career with 266 wins and 279 complete games.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.
"We are all saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Feller," said Jane Forbes Clark, the Hall of Fame's chairman of the board. "He represented the National Baseball Hall of Fame longer than any individual in history, as 2011 would have been his 50th year as a Hall of Fame member. No one loved coming back to Cooperstown more than Bob, which he and [his wife] Anne did often."
Along with Cooperstown, MLB Network, too, took pause to remember Feller, altering its programming schedule on Thursday to show "Studio 42 with Bob Costas: Bob Feller." The program will be shown again at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The Hall reached out to other inductees on Thursday -- such as Cal Ripken Jr., class of 2007, and Rangers president Nolan Ryan, class of 1999 -- for their remembrances of Feller. To Ripken, Feller's commitment to his country as well as the game was his hallmark.
"Clearly, Bob was one of the greatest pitchers in history, and anyone who knew him understood that he was one of the game's great personalities as well," Ripken said. "That said, baseball didn't define Bob. His service to our country is something that he was very proud of and something we are all grateful for. Bob lived an incredible life, and he will be missed."
Few pitchers in the history of the game have compared with Feller, on the radar gun or in terms of career accomplishments, and Ryan is one of them. The top power pitcher of the 1970s and 1980s did not hesitate in acknowledging who was in his shoes a few decades earlier.
"He was baseball's top power pitcher of the 1940s and 1950s, and was a source of inspiration for all Americans for his service during World War II," Ryan said. "He was a true Hall of Famer."
Gaylord Perry, class of 1991, briefly pitched for the Indians himself, from 1972 to 1975. He remembered the tales Feller would tell of the Cleveland clubs from decades past, like those of Satchel Paige.
"I really enjoyed Bob's company and hearing his stories about history -- from baseball to war and everything else, from out of the cornfields to the Major Leagues," Perry said. "He did so much for baseball and had so many great stories, particularly about barnstorming and his memories of players like Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige. I was very fond of Bob."
The Hall of Fame also compiled quotes about Feller from the members who'd passed away before him.
Charlie Gehringer, the Tigers' second baseman from 1924 to 1942, who died in 1993: "Feller had terrific speed, but what made him even harder to hit was that tremendous curveball."
Ted Lyons, a White Sox right-hander for 21 seasons, who died in 1986: "It wasn't until you hit against him that you knew how fast he really was, until you saw with your own eyes that ball jumping at you."