“Rapid Robert Rolls” – 28 x 30 in. – Oil on Linen – 2010
$12,180 – please contact Objects & Images Fine Art for more info.
Rapid Robert Rolls
CLEVELAND – Bobby Doerr struck again. In the second inning of the July 31, 1946 contest between the Red Sox and Indians, history repeated itself when Boston’s second baseman broke up ace Bob Feller’s bid for a potential no-hitter. He had done the same to Rapid Robert on May 25, 1939 at a game in Fenway Park. In the end though, Feller and his Indians had the last laugh, with the rightie becoming the first pitcher of the season to notch 20 victories – for the fourth time in his career, no less – after a 4-1 triumph.
14,466 attendees filed into League Park and witnessed Feller record nine strikeouts that Wednesday afternoon – including one of Ted Williams in the fourth. Boston first baseman – and heavy hitter – Rudy York went down swinging three times. Dom DiMaggio, losing pitcher Mickey Harris, John Lazor, Wally Moses and Don Gutteridge also contributed to Bob’s total of 239 in 231 1/3 innings for that season to that point. Not bad for the man who had made his last start two days earlier.
However, things did start inauspiciously for the Cleveland hurler. Right fielder Moses walked to open the game, and promptly moved to third after two quick infield outs. Feller was wild and gave a pass to York, who would get caught in a rundown on an attempted double-steal, thus scoring Moses.
Doerr opened the second inning with a clean single to left field. The Boston infielder was easily erased by catcher Jim Hegan after an attempted steal, and from there the right hander Feller took over.
Cleveland’s half of the second was opened with Lou Boudreau flying out. Next, Ken Keltner’s third base replacement Don Ross singled into centerfield, and later stopped at second after Hegan laced a single to the same spot. Feller contributed to his own cause by slamming a fastball for a triple over DiMaggio’s head in center. The mighty blow scored the two base runners, and Feller crossed home plate minutes later on second baseman Jack Conway’s single.
Boston did have a chance to fight back in the fifth, as both Doerr and DiMaggio were walked, and then advanced a base each on a sacrifice. Unfortunately, Hal Wagner would pop up to Boudreau, and Lazor fanned.
The last Cleveland run was produced in the sixth, starting with first baseman Heinz Becker’s single. He later took second when Boudreau walked. Hegan laced his second of three hits to drive Becker in. It’s worth noting that Boston’s seventh saw centerfielder DiMaggio fly to Pat Seerey for the only outfield putout that Feller needed.
Pictured is the moment after the last out was recorded, with the victorious Feller shaking hands with Becker, and Hegan emerging from the shadows to extend his congratulations.
The end of that hot, crisp summer day saw a Cleveland team that had just bid welcome to their new owner, Bill Veeck. The showman brought bread and circus to Cleveland that year, implanting a tepee in the centerfield area of both Indian ballparks, as well as…
In the end though, the team finished sixth in the American League, with the brilliance of their pitcher being the bright spot for the club. He had come back from World War II to compile a 26-15 record, 2.18 earned run average, and 348 strikeouts – the latter breaking Rube Waddell’s single-season record. After throwing a no-hitter against the Yankees in April – as well as this July gem – it was clear that he was back in top form.
Feller’s stellar performance was the seventh one-hitter of his career. With those one-hit games and his two no-hit performances, he matched the achievements compiled by another Cleveland great Addie Joss, from 1902 to 1910.
Perhaps it should be said that Feller – not Doerr – struck again.