By Glen Sparks
Bob Feller signed up to fight in World War II on Dec. 9, 1941, as ships and airplanes lay in wreckage at Pearl Harbor and after more than 2,400 U.S. service men had died.
Feller, already a great pitcher for the Cleveland Indians and a future Hall of Famer, missed three full seasons (1942-45) and part of another (1946) while aboard the U.S.S. Alabama battleship, seeing combat action in the Philippines Sea and elsewhere.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus saluted Feller, as well as the many other Major League players who served in World War II, during a recent ceremony held at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Mabus also announced that the Navy’s next ship will be christened the U.S.S. Cooperstown.
The Cooperstown will be a Freedom-class littoral combat ship, designed to go close to shore (the littoral zone) and drop off an assault force if needed. A bit smaller than a guided-missile frigate, the Cooperstown will feature a flight deck and hanger for two Seahawk helicopters.
Navy officials plan to use the Cooperstown in several roles, including anti-submarine warfare, reconnaissance, intelligence, logistics and more. Lockheed-Martin will build the 388-foot ship in Wisconsin. The littoral combat ship is a new type of Navy ship, Mabus said.
“These ships will serve our nation for decades,” he said at the ceremony.
Mabus said that 36 future Hall of Famers served in World War II and 64 served in combat altogether, from the Civil War to the Korean War.