OBSERVATIONS: Just how fast did Bob Feller throw his fastball?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave still speed-watching The Black List. We’re through episode 17 of the third year. Long way to go, but I love Robert Reddington.

—Nowadays, if a major league pitcher can’t throw a four-seam fastball 99 or 100 miles an hour, he must need Tommy John surgery.

It wasn’t that way 60 or 70 years ago, back when Hall of Fame pitcher Rapid Robert Feller threw blurry fastballs for the Cleveland Indians. He was considered a freak of nature.

—How fast was Bob Feller’s fastball? My dad once told me he threw 110 miles an hour. My dad loved Bob Feller.

There was no radar guns when Feller pitched for the Cleveland Indians in the 1940s and 1950s.

But they came up with a scheme. They would time Feller’s fastball against a speeding motorcycle. As the motorcycle sped past him, Feller had to unleash his fastball and hit a small paper target at home plate.

Seconds after the motorcycle roared past, Feller fired his heater. Feller’s pitch quickly outraced the motorcycle, ahead by a good three feet when it split the paper bull’s-eye target.

“I still don’t know how I hit that target on the first try,” Feller said. “It was the luckiest thing I’ve ever done.”

A split-second after Feller’s offering broke the paper target, the motorcycle obliterated its target. Enough variables were satisfied to calculate the speed of the pitch. MLB announced that Feller’s fastball was 104 miles an hour.

Scientists all over the world scratched their heads and said, “They figured it out how. . .?”

—QUOTE: Written by Akron Beacon Journal baseball writer Jim Schlemmer after Bob Feller got hit with a line drive in a sensitive area” “Bob Feller got hit where only a feller can be hit.”

—From Scott Russell’s highly entertaining book, ‘The Spaceman Chronicles,’ an autobiography of Bill Lee.

Lee played some exhibition games against prisoners in San Quentin prison and said, “It’s not a place where you want to play a home game. The key is to be on the visiting team. There is no home field advantage.”

—The last time the Cleveland Browns won a playoff game was in 1994: Cleveland 20, New England 13. The Browns were coached by Bill Belichick. Belichick’s next head coaching job was with New England. Wonder where he is now?

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals won a playoff game was in 1990: Cincinnati 41, Houston Oilers 14. The Oilers no longer exist. They are now the Tennessee Titans.

—Not a Clemson fan and definitely not a Dabo Swinney fan. But I have to agree with him that Florida State called off its home game with Clemson to avoid a severe butt-kicking.

—Best football game I saw on TV last weekend: Coldwater’s 38-35 victory over New Middletown Springfield in the Ohio High School Football Division VI title game.

Coldwater, down 35-27 with 1:36 left, tied it with a touchdown. The defense forced a three-and-out and Zack McKibben returned the punt 72 yards. That set up Brady Klingshirn’s 26-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

McKibben also caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Myles Blasingame and rushed for 78 yards. He offered to drive the bus home, but he isn’t old enough.

It was Coldwater’s seventh state championship and 37th for the Midwest Athletic Conference

They should call if the ‘MAC Trophy’ and be done with it.

Amazingly, New Bremen, also from the MAC, won the Division VII title, beating John F. Kennedy, 31-0. Coldwater defeated New Breemen in an early-season game, 24-7.

The MAC: Coldwater, New Bremen, Marion Local, St. Henry, Versaillles, Ft. Recovery, Minster, Anna, Delphos St. John’s, Parkway. Marion Local has won 11 state titles, all since 2000.

—How could you do that, Herbie? Sometimes TV analyst Kirk Herbstreit bends over backwards to show non-favoritism toward Ohio State. After all, the Dayton native is a former OSU quarterback.

On his personal poll this week, Herbie dropped Ohio State from third to fourth and moved Clemson up to No. 3.

Makes no sense, Herbie. Ohio State beat a Top Ten unbeaten team. Clemson not only didn’t play, the Tigers have a loss. OSU remains unbeaten.

If he is penalizing the Buckeyes for only beaten Indiana by seven when they were three-touchdown favorites, well, Clemson had to come from behind to narrowly beat a below-average Boston College team.

My Top Six: 1. Alabama (until further notice), 2. Ohio State (The Buckeyes are better than Notre Dame and Clemson), 3. Notre Dame (The Irish did beat Clemson, with Clemson’s quarterback out of the lineup), 4. Clemson (until further notice), 5. Cincinnati (big win at Central Florida), 6. Brigham Young (bring ‘em young, bring ‘em old, just bring ‘em.).

—Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson wore a headband during Saturday’s game that said, “Any Team, Any Time, Any Place.”

Well, maybe not this weekend, not against Washington and not in Seattle.

BYU has an open date and the Washington-Washington State game was canceled due to COVID-19. So Washington reportedly reached out to BYU for a game and BYU said, “No thanks.” Wonder if Wilson burned his headband?

—Bettors beware, the trend is rampant. Another player refused to score a touchdown that prevented his team from covering the spread.

This time it was University of Cincinnati running back Gerrid Doaks. UC led Central Florida, 36-33, with a minute left. Doaks ran left and could have walked backwards into the end zone. Instead he took a knee at the 1-yard-line. The game ended one play later.

UC was a four-point favorite. They won by three. If Doaks scores the touchdown, those who wagered on UC win. Instead, they lost.

It was the same thing Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb did two weeks ago. With the Browns ahead of Houston, 10-7, he broke free around left end for 64 yards. Although unchallenged he ran out of bounds at the 1-yard-line. The game ended one play later. The Browns were 4 1/2-point favorites and won by three. Those who wagered on the Browns lost because the Browns only won by three.

This Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, a 22-17 win, Chubb had 20 carries for 114 yards, including a 54-yard carry on which he either knocked over or ran over five defenders, that set up Kareem Hunt’s touchdown in the fourth quarter.

—QUOTE: From Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb: “If you’re tired, just go in and score and get off the field. That’s my mode, I just go in and score and get off the field, and I won’t be tired any more.” (He must not have been tired against Houston and wanted to stay on the field and ruin the day for bettors.)

No matter. Some bettors are still calling him Nick Flubb.

2 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Just how fast did Bob Feller throw his fastball?”

  1. It turns out that the real story on BYU not playing Washington was more complicated. The Pac-12 required Washington to fill its open date with a Pac-12 opponent if one were to become available. And as of a day or two ago, Utah became available. As a result, Utah and Washington will face off Saturday evening in Seattle.

  2. I’m not a gambler but I think it’s a safe bet to say Chubb’s flub or Doaks’ choke, are two ways to sustain a career-ending injury, if not worse. It also suggests to me that each may have had a vested financial interest in the spread and that bears investigating.

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