For a second, you could glimpse the old Bob Feller. He wore a shirt and tie instead of a Cleveland Indians uniform, and he was pitching to Seven Hills Little Leaguers instead of sluggers. But the ball probably still stuck in his glove as he swayed on one foot, holding it behind his head, then rocked suddenly forward, blasting it out with a vicious wrist snap. Feller was older now, and the ball presumably a little slower. But the ace still had it.
By 1960, Feller was already a legend. He and his chin-dimple arrived in the major leagues as a boy of 17, fresh off a farm in tiny Van Meter, Iowa. He volunteered to serve in the Navy during World War II, pitched in the 1948 World Series, which the Indians won, and, in 1956, retired from baseball at 38 years old to sell insurance. But Feller never gave up baseball. He was involved in Little League in his East Side suburb, and never abandoned his belief that the sport he loved could unite Americans young and old.
“I am for baseball. I am for baseball, for all the fans,” Feller told television interviewer Mike Wallace in 1957. “I think baseball consists of the fans, the Little League ballplayers, all the youths of America, the umpires, the writers, the owners, you and everyone else. I don’t think baseball can be any group of, or any one individual, or any small group of individuals.”