One of Iowa's best known baseball players died Wednesday. Bob Feller was 92. He was an Iowa farm boy who made it to the major leagues without ever playing in the minors. His entire career was with the Cleveland Indians.
Feller was a pitcher with several nicknames: "The Heater from Van Meter", "Rapid Robert", and "Bullet Bob" were three. He was the winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history. Bob retired in 1956 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962.
The day after Pearl Harbor, he was the first major league player to enlist. He served four years in the US Navy aboard the USS Alabama. After he returned to major league action in 1946, he recorded ten shutout games.
In 1995 the Bob Feller Museum opened in Van Meter, Iowa. It was designed by his son, Stephen.
It has been all the media coverage about Bob Feller that reminded me that we almost had a major league baseball player in our family. At least that is what Mom once told me.
Her cousin, Delmar Haley, tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals. According to family lore, the only reason he wasn't signed wasn't because he wasn't a talented ball player, it was because he had a boil on his neck. They sent him home to Iowa.
I don't know if that is true. I do know that Delmar and his brothers Jim and Calvin, along with their brother-in-law, Cliff Palmer, were all very good ball players. They played for the Nodaway Town Team. We were quite often spectators at their many wins.
This picture of Delmar and his family was taken at the Ridnour Cousins Reunion at our farm in 1957. In back are Delmar, his sons, Don and Dave. Wife Jean is in front with son, Tom. Dave is the last living family member.
Delmar was also an amateur boxer. All three of his sons were active in sports. The one activity I remember Delmar best for wasn't sports; it was dancing. He and Jean were the smoothest dance couple I ever saw. Whether it was a waltz, polka, schottische, fox trot or a square dance - they could out dance everyone.
Cousin Delmar was one year younger that Bob Feller.