19 Days – Bob Feller

Bob Feller

Bob FellerWe’re just 19 days away from the Major League Baseball Opening Series on March 22 in Sydney, Australia, and in the course of this entire countdown that started 51 days out with Ichiro, there is really only one Opening Day performance in the history of baseball that holds a place atop the mountain.

“It means a lot of luck,” Bob Feller told MLB.com writer Anthony Castrovince in the spring of 2010, when asked about what was then the 70th anniversary of the only Opening Day no-hitter, hurled by him in 1940. Just months after that interview, we sadly lost the great right-hander, who spent his entire 18-year career with Cleveland, sacrificing four years to military service. Watch him explain what happened:

There were only about 14,000 fans at old Comiskey Park on that April 16, due to a blustery day in Chicago. But the elements actually helped Feller, then just 21 and already with 55 wins under his belt. He abandoned the curve and relied on his legendary fastball, striking out eight and walking five in a 1-0 victory over the White Sox. Feller escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second and recalled, “After that, I started pitching better.”

Bob Feller

Feller made a club-record seven Opening Day starts for the Indians, and his first was a year before that gem, in 1939. You could almost argue that his best Opening Day performance actually may have been that first one. He struck out 10, walked only two and allowed only three hits in a complete game victory over Detroit at home, one of the hits a solo homer in the sixth by Bernie McCosky. But history mainly recalls one special Opening Day start a year later. And his legacy carries on, an autograph that sits on this particular writer’s office desk, representing the first signature he ever got as a boy. Rapid Robert loved to sign for you. We’ll never forget.

The 2014 Indians open their regular season March 31 at Oakland, and then face Minnesota in their home opener April 4 at Progressive Field. What memories are in store this season? MLB Schedule | Tickets

Who should be No. 18?

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