Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trying to hit Bob Feller - 'All you saw was a leg, a face, and an arm!'

For any major league hitter, facing Bob Feller was never an easy task. Armed with a fastball that hovered around 100 miles per hour, Feller made even the most dangerous hitters just another notch in his rising strikeout totals.

Philadelphia Athletics shortstop Al Brancato was barely 19 years old when he first squared off against Feller during 1939 spring training. During a visit to the late Brancato's Upper Darby, Pennsylvania home in 2007, he shared just how difficult it was to hit Feller, who was then a grizzled veteran of three major league seasons at the ripe age of 20.

Bob Feller at the 2009 MLBPAA Dinner / N. Diunte

"With Feller you never knew where the ball was going to be," Brancato recalled. "He hid the ball behind his body and all you saw was a leg and an arm coming. His ball moved a lot and he threw very hard; he had everything. ... The first time I faced him, I was on the bench and Mr. Mack called me to pinch hit. I went up, he threw three balls past me and I’m standing like a statue. You saw a leg, a face, and an arm. ... You didn’t see it until the last minute. He hid the ball and you never saw it until the last moment, and then boom!" 


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