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Local Sports

March 31, 2009

Feller, 90, to start Hall of Fame Classic

COOPERSTOWN _ Hall of Famer Bob Feller last pitched in a major league game in 1956.

To say the 90-year-old's right arm might have some rust would be an understatement. Still, Feller will get the nod to be one of the starting pitchers at the inaugural National Baseball Hall of Fame Classic at 2 p.m. June 21 at Doubleday Field, the Cooperstown shrine announced Monday.

Feller is one of five Hall of Famers who will participate in the seven-inning exhibition. Fergie Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Brooks Robinson will also play in the Classic, which will have its rosters filled in over the upcoming weeks, said Jeff Idelson, the Hall's president.

Former major leaguers George Foster, Bill Lee, Steve Rogers, Lee Smith and Jim Kaat also have committed to playing.

"We're still building the rest of the roster," Idelson said. "Any time you can have a player play who wore a major league uniform, you're talking about somebody special. You're going to get some guys of the caliber of a George Foster or a Lee Smith, which is a pretty-high caliber, but not quite Hall of Fame caliber. Then you'll get some players who, compared to them, don't quite have that stature, but the fact that they wore a major league uniform puts them in pretty elite company."

The Classic is being held as a replacement for the Hall of Fame Game, which was canceled by Major League Baseball last year. The final Fame Game was to be played between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres last June. However, heavy rains forced its cancellation.

The Hall, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, announced Nov. 17 the Classic would become one of its marquee events and chose to play it on Father's Day, which is also the first day of summer.

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