Week 21: “The Heater from Van Meter”


America lost an icon and Iowa lost a native son when Bob Feller died last week at age 92.  "Rapid Robert" and his blazing fastball won 266 games for the Cleveland Indians, led the American League in wins six times and in strikeouts seven times. He threw three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters. He struck out 17 in his first major-league start, and was the first to record 18 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. 

“The Heater from Van Meter” (as he was also known) will be remembered as arguably baseball's greatest right-handed pitcher.  A fact that is even more impressive when you consider Feller, who grew up on a farm in Van Meter, Iowa, left the game during his prime years to join the U.S. war effort in the Pacific. It is this sacrifice that makes Bob Feller not only a great baseball player, but a great American.

If you saw the “Iowa…A Field of Dreams” video inviting you to the 2011 National Main Streets Conference, you probably already have the idea that baseball is pretty important to us in Iowa, especially here in Des Moines!

Baseball has been a part of Des Moines almost from the city’s inception.  Des Moines has even played a small part in national baseball history. When it was announced in 1929 that the team would open their next season at night, everyone thought we were crazy.  The experiment was a huge success and provided the needed boost for baseball during the depression. 

Over the years, numerous professional baseball teams have called Des Moines home.  In 1981, the Iowa Oaks became the top minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and have been the Iowa Cubs ever since. 

The I Cubs play at Principal Park in downtown Des Moines. The stadium seats 11,500 fans and has 45 luxury suites, 12 of which are in a building in left field that also houses the Cub Club restaurant. The State Capitol is visible from beyond the center field fence.

If you’re planning your trip to Des Moines and want to include a game, you’re in luck!  The I Cubs play at home vrs Tucson on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings before the National Main Streets Conference; or there are home games against the Las Vegas 51s on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. or Thursday, with the first pitch thrown out at 12:05. Get ticket and schedule information here.

 See you at the conference… and at the game!

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