Cubs fans attending their team's annual convention this past weekend probably hoped to bump into old-timers such as Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks or Ryne Sandberg.
Heck, even running into the dudes who invented the Shawon-o-Meter or WGN's Dave Kaplan would have been nostalgic for some Midwesterners out there.
But how about Bob Feller, that American League lifer with the Indians?
Bob Feller? Rapid Robert? The Heater from Van Meter (Iowa)? At the Cubs Convention?
Whoa, wait a second there, sonny boy!
Yessir/ma'am. Feller, whose Hall-of-Fame self never pitched a meaningful MLB inning at Wrigley Field, was signing autographs for a reasonable price at a booth in an exhibition hall. He'll be doing the same thing at TwinsFest next weekend.
Feller seemed out of place (what was a World Series champion doing at a Cubs function?) but he also was the coolest Iowan out of thousands in the room. He threw 100 mph, pitched 12 one-hitters and three no-no's, went to eight All-Star Games, was a gunnery captain during WWII (the Big One) and had the best cleft chin in the majors.
Feller, who just turned 90 and retired more than 50 years ago after breaking into the bigs at age 17, is still pretty sharp. His take on the Indians in '09?
"Well, I don't think they'll be World Series champions. I think they'll be better than last year. So much comes down to pitching, of course. Can [Kerry] Wood be counted on to close ballgames?"
A nice man to meet, and one with HUGE hands. A baseball must have been tiny in his palm.
(As an aside: Across the aisle from Feller was none other than Lou Brock. He was promoting a cruise line, signing his name and taking pictures with fans. Several fans came up and asked me who it was. After learning, they groaned, bemoaning the Cubs worst trade of all time. But the fans, of course, proceeded to get in line to meet Brock anyway.)