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Hall of Fame Military Spotlight Series: Bob Feller

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

As we approach a much-anticipated Opening Day and reflect on the thousands of games in the books both in the American and National League, there is only one pitcher in Major League Baseball history that held the opposition hitless from start to finish on this day. It took place on April 16th, 1941, when the young 21-year-old prodigy Bob Feller pitched an opening day no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on a

blustery 40-degree day in Comiskey Park.

History would prove that Bob Feller was a great pitcher, but an even greater patriot. He sacrificed for his country and always said: “There were more important things to do than playing baseball.”

Feller not only shined on the baseball diamond, but he also demonstrated his selflessness and service to country when he volunteered to serve in the United States Navy within two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation was founded by Peter Fertig with a mission to honor Bob Feller, provide support to military families and Veteran causes and to educate our youth on the lessons of citizenship, sacrifice, and service to one’s country that was instilled by Bob Feller. The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award was created in 2013 to honor individuals from Major League Baseball and the United States Navy community who embody those traits .

“I had the honor and pleasure of having Bob Feller write the introduction to my children’s book “The Deal is on Strike Three.” Foundation President, Peter Fertig stated. “I had several book signings with him in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and what we basically talked about was his service in the United States Navy during WWII and how he never hesitated to serve his beloved country. After his death, I asked his wife Anne to pursue the idea of creating an Award that honored the three components of Bob’s life as a Major League Baseball player, a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, and a National Baseball Hall of Fame member.”

The Bob Feller Award Foundation is now more than a decade old and has honored many great Americans in the name of Bob Feller because of his selfless sacrifice to our country in a time of great national need. The organization is comprised of great Americans and volunteers who honor this great generation.

Retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major and Vice President and Education Committee Chair, Steve Curtis also shared his relationship with Bob Feller, stating; “I first met Bob Feller at a baseball card show in 1989 and had never met a more patriotic man.” Because of their military connection, a unique relationship formed as Bob often called Steve’s wife, Kelley, when Steve was serving in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom to see how they were doing. This is just one example of the person Bob Feller was.

Gene Tunney, a heavyweight boxing champion, swore Bob Feller into the U.S. Navy and became Feller’s physical fitness trainer at the Norfolk Naval Training Station. Bob Feller wanted to be more involved in the fight and became an anti-aircraft gun captain on the USS Alabama.

He later became a Chief Petty Officer and served in combat in the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands and at the Philippine Sea, receiving six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars.

Bob Feller remained vocal about his pride in serving in the war long after he had completed his service and baseball career, saying that he would not have been able to be proud of his baseball career had he not served in the war.

We are honored to showcase Bob Feller in our military spotlight series. Bob Feller is the namesake of our foundation and was a star not just for his athletic accomplishments but also for his commitment and passion he brought to his military service. His baseball and military legacy lives on by his demonstration of valor and sacrifice that is embodied by the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation. He models how we should all hope to act and give back in life.

To learn more about Bob Feller, click the link here for a video made by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.



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