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Bob Feller MLB Debut 15Ks – August 23, 1936

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17 Year-Old Bob Feller Strikes Out 15 Batters in His First Major League Start

Bob Feller, 17 years old - MLB debut 17 strikeouts

Bob Feller, 17 years old – MLB debut 17 strikeouts
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Bob Feller grew up on a farm in Van Meter, Iowa. Cleveland Indians chief scout Cyril “Cy” Slapnicka earned his keep when he signed Feller after his junior year in high school. Feller’s signing bonus was $1.00. (Yes, that’s right, one U.S. dollar) To sweeten the deal the Indians threw in a baseball autographed by the other players on the Indians. (Where is that ball, and what would it be worth today?)

Feller made his first official big league start on Aug. 23, 1936 against the St. Louis Browns. When Feller went to the mound, Indians manager Steve O’Neill sent veteran Denny Galehouse to the bullpen to warm up in case Feller had trouble. After Feller struck out the side in the first inning, Galehouse sat down. Feller struck out 15 batters, one short of the league record, in a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Browns. The Plain Dealer called it the greatest pitching debut ever.

Gets 17 at 17

Two weeks later, on Sept. 13, 1936, Feller broke the American League mark with 17 strikeouts in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics. He was still only 17 years old.

After the season, he returned to Van Meter for his senior year in high school. He could not play basketball for the school because he had already become a professional athlete. He was accompanied by a tutor when he went to spring training.
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