Today In Tribe History; August 23, 1936
By Vince Guerrieri
A high school phenom took the mound for the Indians against the St. Louis Browns on a Sunday afternoon at League Park 75 years ago today, Aug. 23, 1936.
He was signed off the sandlots of Iowa for a buck and an autographed baseball, and had never played an inning in the minor leagues. The Browns were regarded as the dregs of the American League – the saying was that St. Louis was “first in booze, first in shoes and last in the American League” – but it was still stiffer competition than the 17-year-old hurler had ever seen before.
All he did was almost set a major league record in his major league debut.
The pitcher was Bob Feller. He struck out 15 and got the win – the first of 266 in his illustrious career. That year, he went 5-3, and eventually did break the American League record for strikeouts in a game that year, fanning 17 Athletics batters at the age of 17.
Feller spent his whole career – less four years in the Navy during World War II – with the Tribe. He was unable to get a win in a World Series game, becoming the victim of a botched call of a pick-off of Phil Masi in game 1 and getting shelled in game 5 in 1948, and not even getting a start in 1954, but he retired with a major league record for strikeouts in a game and season, and three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters. The Indians retired his number 17 in 1957, and he was a first-ballot hall of famer in 1962.
Bob Feller died on Dec. 15 at the age of 92 from complications of leukemia. But even earlier that season, he was still a fixture in the Progressive Field press box, weighing in on issues great and small.
And he earned it, as the greatest pitcher of his day, one of the greatest of all time, and the best ever to put on a Cleveland Indians uniform.