The Indians, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and the United States Navy created an award to honor the legacy of Cleveland Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller this season.
At the age of 23, Feller enlisted in the Navy immediately after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the start of World War II for the United States. He did so despite possessing a deferment with which he could have been exempt from service.
But he enlisted anyway, becoming one of the first professional athletes to do so and interrupting what was already a phenomenal baseball career. He served aboard the USS ALABAMA (BB-60), seeing combat in the Pacific Theater, in The Battle of the Philippine Sea. He rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer before his discharge in August 1945, at the end of the war.
Five Major League Baseball players, including Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, have been chosen as nominees for the inaugural Bob Feller Act of Valor Award and will be recognized before Sunday’s Indians game at Progressive Field vs. Detroit.
The nominees are: Nick Swisher, first baseman, Cleveland Indians, Justin Verlander, pitcher, Detroit Tigers, Cole Hamels, pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies, Justin Morneau, first baseman, Minnesota Twins and Ross Detwiler, pitcher, Washington Nationals
Feller’s wife, Anne, will be on hand at Progressive Field on Sunday for a pre-game ceremony honoring the nominees. One of the players will be selected by the Bob Feller Act of Valor Board as the winner and receive the award on Veterans Day at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. Former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra has been chosen as the National Baseball Hall of Fame award winner, while the U.S. Navy’s nominees for the award will be announced at a later date.