Wendel: Feller’s fastball and a famous radar reading

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on December 1, 2014:

Bob Feller was as curious as anybody else about how hard he could throw a fastball. That led him to participate in a memorable Calvin Griffith stunt to drum up the gate in Washington and to throw against a Chicago policeman riding a motorcycle.

“You look back at it now and ask yourself, ‘What the heck were you doing?’” Feller once told me. “But I knew I could throw the ball with the best of them. Deep down if somebody asks you to try and prove it, you step right up and give it a shot.”

That’s how Feller found himself in the middle of a closed-off street running through Chicago’s Lincoln Park in the summer of 1940. At the time, the right-hander was the best pitcher in the game, well on his way to winning 27 games, posting a 2.61 ERA and striking out 261—all league bests. Fresh from the Del Prado Hotel, Feller was in street clothes—in wingtips instead of spikes and a toe plate. But he held a baseball in his right hand and was ready to throw as a Harley Davidson motorcycle driven by a city policeman roared closer to him.

As the Harley bore down on him, doing better than 80 miles per hour, Feller went into his windup. It wasn’t a carbon copy of the distinctive high-leg-kick delivery he had on the mound, but he was able to put plenty of zip on the ball.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/fellers-fastball

Originally published: December 1, 2014. Last Updated: December 1, 2014.