Fans, Indians pay tribute to Feller

Bob Feller was a teenage pitching wonder, a World War II hero and an outspoken Hall of Famer for the Cleveland Indians.

In his tiny hometown of Van Meter, Iowa, he was the farm boy who never forgot his roots.

Flags flew at half-staff Thursday at the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, a short drive west of Des Moines, a day after Feller succumbed to acute leukemia at the age of 92.

Museum general manager Scott Havick says Feller was a patriotic, loyal and warmhearted man who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, and museum staffer Delores Jones says Feller always seemed like family, warmly greeting visitors and sharing stories of his time in the big leagues.

At Progressive Field in Cleveland, the center field flag was lowered to half staff. Ballpark crews hung red, white and blue memorial banners marking Feller’s career and highlighting his Navy service. Fans placed memorials, including a bag of sunflower seeds, at the base of the ballpark’s Feller statue.

Gary Schultz of Kent, Ohio, who stopped by the statue to take a keepsake photo, calls Feller ”the epitome of Cleveland and baseball.”

His neighbor, Rich Aber, met Feller at spring training in Goodyear, Ariz., and recalls Feller having a ”very large and strong” hand.

Feller won 266 games with the Indians and was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.