1958 - Bob Feller Home
Hall of Fame Cleveland Indian Pitcher
In the fall of 1958 I entered Pekin Community High School as a 14 year old freshman. As my friend from St. Joseph's grade school Gorden Mitchell and I sat in study hall the freshman football coach Jack Stoudt entered and said that they needed some more freshmen to come out for football as they only had nine players. I figured that I might be too small as I only weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, but he said it wouldn't be a problem. So Gorden and I went out. Gorden didn't last too long but I played for two years until I decided to concentrate on making the varsity basketball team in my junior year.
At the end of the first season the program had a banquet at which Bob Feller was to be the guest speaker. It was around December 15th and we had just had a bad snow storm and Bob was several hours late. He finally arrived and gave his speech. After the speech I was surprised and a little embarrassed as I walked up to the front to collect the door prize I had won which was an autographed baseball from Bob.
Later my dad showed me how to preserve the ball by coating it with fingernail polish. I preserved the ball until 1966 when my roommate at the University of Illinois talked me into using it to play catch when we had no other baseballs. It wasn't long before we were using it for batting practice and the signature became unreadable. Eventually I lost it. No one believed that it was really Bob Feller's signature anyway by that time.
Around 1995 or so Bob Feller came to Ft. Myers, Florida and was on a radio sports talk show. I called in and told him of my experience and he said that if I came to the Boston Red Sox spring training game the next day he would autograph another ball for me. I said OK although I knew there was no way I was going to drive to Ft. Myers during the middle of tourist season.