Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Chandler blocked Bob Feller from playing in Cuba

Hall of Fame pitcher, Bob Feller, who died Wednesday night of acute leukemia at age 92, never played in the Cuban League ... but he almost did.

According to Jorge S. Figueredo's book Beisbol: A Un Paco de las Grandes Ligas, 1878-1961, Feller had agreed to play with Almendares in 1947 but was blocked by baseball commissioner Happy Chandler.

The story is recounted in several websites, including Baseballpedia and The Baseball Page.

It goes as follows:

In 1947, Feller announced that he would pitch in the Cuban winter league in the off-season. Unfortunately, he made the announcement in August while the Indians were in the midst of a pennant race. Cleveland fans howled. Feller explained that he had to make the announcement earlier than planned because the news was going to leak in Cuba. Regardless, MLB Commissioner Happy Chandler ruled that no major leaguer could play in Cuba during the winter. Feller fired back at Chandler, citing that minor leaguers were not restricted by the ruling.

”Why should a major league player be limited to 30 days of barnstorming when a minor leaguer can play ball all winter? Chandler’s ruling places a penalty on being a major leaguer.”

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