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RAPID ROBERT Can Still Bring It
Frank Deford
August 08, 2005
Like his legendary heater, Bob Feller comes at you fast and hard--and he's got a lot on his mind
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August 08, 2005

Rapid Robert Can Still Bring It

Like his legendary heater, Bob Feller comes at you fast and hard--and he's got a lot on his mind

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"You wouldn't know."

Feller stops writing. He's even a little indignant. "Where?"

" Utica."

Feller shakes his head in exasperation. " Utica. Of course, I remember Utica very well. Both the dugouts were on the third base line, side by side. And the clubhouse was in a trailer." He finishes his name and adds, H O F�'62. He hands it to the man. "I remember Utica very well," he says with definitude.

And so it goes. Finally the line starts to peter out, and he tells Julie to cut it off. The volunteer closes up the cash box. Feller is still sitting there a few minutes later, drinking coffee, when a boy with a glove rushes up with his father.

"Sorry," Julie says.

Feller looks up, sees the boy, sees the glove. There isn't a boy with a baseball glove he can ignore. "Whaddya play?" he asks.

"Shortstop."

"Yeah, that's what I played till I found out I couldn't hit," the old man says. The boy nods. Feller says, "Well, if you're a baseball player, I'll sign." The boy hands over his figurine, and Feller inscribes it and gives it back.

The boy examines the signature. Probably he'd never heard of the old player until his father clued him in today. It's like Feller says about some of the young Indians, "The kids just stare at the wall when they hear my name." Flabbergasted, he even mentions a player who'd never heard--never heard--of Babe Ruth. But now he just looks back at the boy looking at his signature. Finally, Feller snaps, "You forgot something."

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