Cleveland, May 1 – 12th One-Hitter – Bobby Feller spells out “12” with baseballs today after winning his 12th one-hit game. Feller who held the major league record for single hitters even before today, came within eight outs of posting his fourth no-hitter as the Cleveland Indians beat Boston 2-0. credit: AP wirephoto
There will always be the proverbial argument of who was the fastest pitcher in baseball history. Had the modern radar gun technology been around 70 years ago, there is no doubt that Bob Feller would have been credited as the hardest thrower of his generation.
Roger Peckinpaugh (1891-1977) who was a player and managed from the dead ball era through the modern era and saw everyone from Walter Johnson to Nolan Ryan. Peckinpaugh reminisced in Donald Honig’s The Man in the Dugout (1977, Follett) about flame throwing pitchers.
“I never batted against Addie Joss, but I did against Smokey Joe Wood, Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove, and I managed Bob Feller in his heyday. Who was the fastest? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I would say Walter Johnson. Now Bobby was fast all right, but he had that great big curveball to go along with it.”
Long-time player and manager Jimmy Dykes said, “And Bob Feller was fast. Plus he had that curveball. Great. For the longest time he couldn’t get it over (the plate). I used to tell my players, ‘Don’t swing at the curveball even if you’ve got two strikes.’
‘What if it’s a strike?’ they’d ask.
‘Then come on back,’ I’d tell them, ‘because you’re not going to hit it anyway.'”
Feller pitched an incredible 12 one-hitters and three no-hitters in his war-shortened career. Feller’s total numbers of 266-162 and 2581 strikeouts are far short of what he surely would have accomplished had he not served nearly four years during World War II in the prime of his career. From 1939 through 1941 Feller won 24, 27 and 25 games. In his first full season return to the big leagues in 1946 Feller won 26 games.
Nolan Ryan currently holds the record for most no-hitters with seven and is tied with Feller for most one hitters.