Results tagged ‘ Happy Chandler ’

FBI files in Cooperstown

By Bill Francis

You never know what you’ll run across when doing baseball research.

While looking through the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library’s clipping file for famed pitcher Johnny Vander Meer, what soon appeared was a copy of a 1938 typed letter sent by longtime Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover congratulating the Cincinnati Reds southpaw on his two consecutive no-hitters.

Hoover has been in the news of late thanks to the recently released movie, J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role and directed by Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood. Hoover was the FBI’s chief from its beginnings in 1935 until his death in 1972 at the age of 77.

In the letter, typed on the chief G-Man’s letterhead and dated June 17, 1938, Hoover writes, “I did have time to glance at the sports page of one of the Miami papers and read the account of the thrilling no-hit game which you pitched against the Boston Bees, and then when I read of your second no-hit game in five days I simply could not resist dropping you this note to extend you my congratulations on this remarkable feat.”

Hoover begins the letter by telling Vander Meer that he’s been “engaged in the investigation of the Cash kidnapping case,” referring to the kidnapping of 5-year-old James B. Cash Jr., known as “Skeegie,” who had been kidnapped from his bed in Princeton, Fla. on May 28, 1938.

Later in the letter Hoover admits that baseball has always been one of his favorite sports and that he attends many games, “although I do not attend as many games as I would like, due to the pressure of my official duties.”

In fact, years later, Hoover would be considered for the job of big league baseball’s commissioner. After a 1945 speech in which he extolled the virtues of wartime baseball, Hoover’s name shot to the top as a possible successor when big league baseball’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, passed away in 1944. The job eventually went to Happy Chandler. When Chandler resigned his post in 1951, Hoover’s name again was bandied about.

Ellis Ryan, the principal owner of the Cleveland Indians and a member of baseball’s screening committee in search of a replacement for Chandler, said in a 1951 interview, “For instance, if J. Edgar Hoover decided to run, I’m sure he would get every vote. But that is out of the question. It would be improper for baseball to attempt to take so valuable a man away from the government.”

After sharing with Vander Meer the recent success of the FBI’s baseball team in Washington, D.C., Hoover ends the letter by wishing the hurler luck in the future, adding, “I really would be thrilled to see you pitch a third no-hit game this season.”

Hoover, once on the Little League board of directors, said that baseball would be the greatest deterrent to crime that America had ever seen. “Keep kids in sports,” his motto went, “and out of courts.”

Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Feller joins Club 91

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

11-2-09-Muder_Feller.jpgAt little more than four months ago, Bob Feller was standing on the mound at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown – preparing to throw the first pitch of the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic.

Today, Feller will celebrate his 91st birthday. And the man who has been a Hall of Famer longer than any other shows no signs of slowing down.

Feller, born Nov. 3, 1918, in Van Meter, Iowa, becomes the 12th Hall of Famer to reach his 91st birthday. He is the third-oldest living Hall of Famer – behind 92-year-old Lee MacPhail and 91-year-old Bobby Doerr, who is a little more than six months older than Feller

11-2-09-Muder_Chart.jpgA little perspective: Feller was born eight days before the end of World War I. And at the June 21 Hall of Fame Classic, Feller faced Hall of Famer Paul Molitor – who was born in 1956, Feller’s final year in the major leagues.

Feller, MacPhail, Doerr and Monte Irvin are the only living Hall of Famers who have reached their 90th birthday (Irvin turned 90 on Feb, 25, 2009). Stan Musial will be the next Hall of Famer to turn 90 when he celebrates his birthday on Nov. 21, 2010.

Al Lopez remains the oldest Hall of Famer, having reached the age of 97 before passing away on Oct. 30, 2005.

Feller was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962, meaning he has lived more years as a Hall of Famer (47) than not (44). No one has worn the title of “Hall of Famer” with more pride.

Happy birthday, Bob Feller!

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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