Apologies for the infrequent posting this week. I’ve had work deadlines and work travel all week, and it’s kept me from writing much. However, my work trip did reveal this little nugget of baseball history.
I’m in Mobile, Ala., and one of the top sights in the city is the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. The Alabama, had a three-year run as the “Heroine of the Pacific.” She was launched in 1943, saw action in the North Atlantic and South Pacific and ended up being one part of the fleet that sailed into Tokyo Bay, Japan, on September 5, 1945.
The Mighty A was set to be scrapped in the 1960s but was saved and turned into the centerpiece of a military history park. She had a crew of 2,500 man that, at one point, included Bob Feller. Feller enlisted in the military days after the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941. He was assigned to the Alabama as a Gun Captain. He pitched for military teams, but he and the Alabama did see plenty of action in World War II.
As the one of the ship’s most famous sailors, Feller is still remembered today. If you tour the Alabama and go below decks, you’ll find all sorts of interesting rooms, including the butcher shop, dark room, brig, laundry room and barber shop. You’ll also find the bunks where the enlisted men kept extremely close quarters. The bunk where Bob Feller slept is marked with a plaque and a picture of the “Heater from Van Meter.”
Is that bunk occupied today? I don’t know. Officially, the Alabama is not haunted. But there are stories of men who were killed there in training mishaps and construction accidents. Belowdecks, the ship is warm and stuffy and not a great place for anyone who’s claustrophobic. It’s a place where your imagination can get the best of you, especially when it’s close to closing time and there are few tourists around.
When I found the bunk, I placed my hand on it while I was reading the bio on the wall. Immediately, my stomach flipped a little and I started getting a headache. My wife touched it too and said out loud exactly what I was feeling but didn’t mention: she was feeling sick and her head hurt. It stopped when we let go. I don’t know what it was. It could be something; could be the stuffiness getting to us. Could be Feller or one of the thousands of other sailors from the Alabama letting us know it was time for us to go. But I thought it was worth sharing.
I’ll try to get back into a regular posting schedule as soon as possible. I hope you liked this little story at least!