Today's quote comes from Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, who threw the only Opening Day no-hitter in major league history on this date in 1940. (Yes, the season started in mid-April back then, thanks to the 154-game schedule.) "Bullet Bob" was overpowering in defeating the Chicago White Sox, 1-0, but then he was overpowering throughout much of his 18-season career. He won 266 games for the Cleveland Indians and recorded 2,581 strikeouts. Had his MLB years not been interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, those numbers would have been even more impressive.
For a farm boy from Van Meter, Iowa, Robert William Andrew Feller had a surprising way with words -- a folksy way. Like many other players of his era, there was an understated charm in his simply expressed views. After the Indians won the World Series in 1948 -- the last time the franchise did so -- the team was feted with a parade. "This is as good as being president," the eight-time All-Star said of the experience.
Here are a few other examples of his distilled wisdom:
"Baseball is only a game, a game of inches and a lot of luck."
"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. It only makes them angry."
"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day."
"Life comes down to honesty and doing what's right."
The values reflected by those words were writ large when the United States entered the Second World War, and not just in the person of Bob Feller. Millions of men enlisted, and countless women served both overseas and on the home front. Feller chose the U.S. Navy, signing up just days after Pearl Harbor was attacked -- despite having an exemption from military service because of his father's ill health. He not only enlisted, he requested combat duty. "I told them I wanted … to do something besides standing around handing out balls and bats and making ball fields out of coral reefs," Feller told an interviewer.
Assigned after his training to the USS Alabama, he served in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, earning multiple campaign ribbons and battle decorations, leaving active duty as the war ended in August 1945. Having spent nearly four years in uniform, much of it in harm's way, the star of the diamond was hailed as battlefield hero. He would have none of it.
"I was only a gun captain on the battleship Alabama for 34 months," Feller told Alan Schwarz for the writer's 2006 book, "Once Upon a Game." "People have called me a hero for that, but I'll tell you this. Heroes don't come home. Survivors come home."
And that's your quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.