Bob Feller Signs His Final Contract – 1956

60 Years Ago Today Bob Feller Signs His Final Playing Contract

Indians pitcher Bob Feller (l) and catcher Jim Hegan (r) sit between GM Hank Greenberg as they sign their 1956 contracts - February 9, 1956

Indians pitcher Bob Feller (l) and catcher Jim Hegan (r) sit between GM Hank Greenberg as they sign their 1956 contracts – February 9, 1956

Bob Feller was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball; certainly many of his contemporaries thought so like Ted Williams who said that Feller was the fastest and best pitcher he ever faced. Feller’s career record of winning 266 games while losing just 162 was just one facet of his dominance. His blazing fastball helped him earn 44 shutouts, throw three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters.

Feller became the first American professional athlete to enlist in World War II by volunteering two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Feller missed three prime years from 1942-1944  and most of the 1945 season while serving in the U.S. Navy. Without this hiatus in his baseball career Feller would have almost certainly won well over 300 games in his career.  In the three seasons prior to the war Feller averaged 25 wins a season.

Feller said his service in World War II was something he was very proud oft. He felt it was his duty to serve and defend his country. After the war Feller wisely said “I’m not a hero, the fellows who didn’t come back, they’re the heroes.

In our photo above Bob Feller is all smiles as he signed his 1956 contract the same day as longtime battery mate Jim Hegan. But 1956 would not be a season to smile about for Rapid Robert. Unfortunately for Feller, 1956 was his final season and one he which he went 0-4 and was used sparingly. At the end of the 1956 season Feller announced his retirement at the age of 37.

What was Feller paid for his last year of hurling? $22,500.

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