Thursday, December 16, 2010

Remembering Bob Feller

With the news of Bob Feller's death at the age of 92, his appearance at the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City became lucid once again in my mind.

Bob Feller regales the crowd during the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth dinner
When Feller grabbed the microphone that evening, everyone was on the edge of their seats, eager to find something to grasp in Feller's words. After he finished addressing the crowd, he was showered with a rousing ovation; a sure sign of respect and reverence for baseball's longest tenured Hall of Famer. The then 91-year-old Feller excitedly vowed to return to New York City to join next year's festivities. Sadly, he never returned.

During his talk, Feller made it clear that he respected the rare fraternity of major league ballplayers, and took every chance to represent the history and integrity of the game. Driven by the industrious values of growing up on a farm in Iowa through the depression, Feller insisted in his speech that his success in baseball directly resulted from the spirit he developed as a young kid laboring in the fields.

Always eager to speak, the vigorous Feller answered questions all night from seemingly every fan in attendance, deftly fielding a constant stream of visitors to his table trying to get a glimpse into the legend's vaults. Stopping his interactions only to take small bites from his plate, Feller simultaneously signed countless autographs and held court with whomever wanted to listen. In a gentleman's fashion, he thanked just about everyone who asked him for an autograph.

Watching Feller operate that evening with his guard down, it was difficult to tell that he was the most accomplished player in the room. His display of humility and sincerity while greeting his fans was an attitude that seemed to be lacking from the current generation of players.


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