There's always something new to see in baseball


May 15, 2019

It’s said you can watch 1,000 baseball games and see something you’ve never seen before every time.

I’m pretty sure that was true for Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller’s mother, at least on Mother’s Day in 1939.

That was the day Mrs. William Feller had to go to the hospital because of something her son started on the field.

The day was “one of sadness and joy,” for the Cleveland Indians’ fireballer, according to The Associated Press story published in the Clovis News-Journal.

Rapid Robert’s mother was in the ballpark in Chicago, one of 28,000 spectators that afternoon. She was sitting near the field, along the first-base line.

Feller, then 20, was pitching to White Sox third baseman Marvin Owen in the bottom of the third inning.

Owen fouled off one of Feller’s “speed balls,” AP reported. The ball struck Mrs. Feller in the face, breaking her glasses.

“The shattered glass inflicted a deep cut above her nose and right eye,” according to AP.

Indians’ trainer Max Weisman gave Feller’s mom emergency medical treatment and made arrangements for her to be transported to a hospital.

“She escaped a skull fracture, but suffered a forehead cut that required seven stitches,” according to a photographer who snapped a picture when Feller went to visit her after the game.

In the photo, owned by Getty Images, Mrs. Feller is apparently sleeping, wrapped in bandages with a badly bruised right eye. Feller is staring at her with a funny look on his face, like he’s thinking she should have brought a glove ... and also thinking that’s probably not anything he should say out loud.

Mrs. Feller — a schoolteacher, a nurse, a newspaper correspondent, and a school board member, according to the “official website of Bob Feller” — needed seven stitches to close her wounds.

The good news: The Indians won that game 80 years ago this week, Feller picking up his sixth victory of the season.

The story was one of two about baseball on the front page of the Clovis newspaper on May 15, 1939.

The other involved Clovis Pioneers baseball players, who had accepted a challenge to win a beard-growing contest as part of Clovis’ annual Pioneer Days celebration.

As they also say in baseball, you can look it up.

David Stevens writes about regional history for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:


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