Iowa History Daily: On August 23, 1936, Bob “The Heater from Van Meter” Feller recorded his first win as a Major League Baseball pitcher. A 1962 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and 18 year MLB pitcher who led the American League in wins six times and won the 1948 World Series, Feller stands as one of the greatest Iowa athletes of all-time.
Born in Van Meter to a farmer and a schoolteacher, Feller’s father started rolling baby Bob a baseball before the child could walk. Implementing a routine featuring daily father-son games of catch on the farm, William Feller encouraged his son’s pursuit of baseball. At 8 “Bullet Bob” broke three of his father’s ribs with a fastball. When, as a 9 year old, Bob could hurl a baseball an alleged 270’, his father decided to put up arc lights on the barn so the two could play catch year-round.
By 1930, an elementary school age Feller pitched against the Van Meter High School Team. Continuing to improve the farm to encourage the baseball prodigy, William Feller started to build a ballpark a quarter-mile east of the farmhouse. The ‘original Field of Dreams’ (and now on the National Register of Historic Places), the field featured a concession stand, bleachers, and its own team called the Oakview which featured an exceptional young pitcher.
Signed by legendary Cleveland scout Cy Slapnicka for $1 and an autographed baseball in 1936, and debuted for the Major League team later in the year without throwing a single pitch in the minor leagues. Although Feller took a break to enlist as 40 mm gun captain in the United States Navy from 1941-1945 while serving in both Atlantic and Pacific theaters of World War II, he managed to amass a 266-162 career record while recording 2,581 strikeouts over his storied career. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar