Introducing… Bob Ferguson

Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson had a lengthy career in baseball.  Regarded as the first switch-hitter in the Major Leagues, Ferguson was already an established baseball player when the game became a business in 1871.  With the adoption of the first legitimate Major League, the National Association, Ferguson was named player/manager for the old New York Mutuals.  On his team were fellow pre-professional legends Dickey Pearce and Joe Start.

Ferguson, who split his career between third base and second base (but was a much better third baseman) finished second on the Mutuals in RBI while leading the club to a fifth place finish.  In 1872 Ferguson shifted to the Brooklyn Atlantics as player/manager (he was a player/manager every season he played) and hit .280.  He stayed with Brooklyn for two more years before leaving the club and joining the Hartford Dark Blues in 1875.

His first year managing the Dark Blues, Ferguson guided the club to a 54-28 record thanks largely to his amazing pitching tandem of Hall of Famer Candy Cummings and Tommy Bond.  On the field, Bob finished second on the club in RBI.  His last year in Hartford, 1877, Bob finished eighth in the league in the RBI department.  His finest season came the following year when he left Hartford for the Chicago White Stockings.

Death to Flying Things paced the league in on-base percentage while hitting at a .351 clip (3rd in the league).  Rejoining Bob in Chicago was his old first baseman in New York, Joe Start, and he also had a youngster who would go on to become the first 3,000 hit man: Cap Anson.  As a skipper, Ferguson brought Chicago in at .500 ball and after the season he left to manage and play for the Troy Trojans. 

In his second year with the Trojans, Ferguson the manager shifted Ferguson the player to second base to open the door for a young slugger named Roger Connor, a future Hall of Famer.  Bob led the league in walks that season and the following year he paced the circuit in games played.  Ferguson brought his Trojans of 1881 in at fifth place as he was one of two players on the roster, Connor being the other, to hit above .280. 

As a 37-year-old player/manager in 1882, Ferguson brought the Trojans in at seventh place but had a roster of solid young talent that would star in the Major Leagues.  At first base he had a 24-year-old Roger Connor, his third baseman was a 22-year-old Buck Ewing, on the mound he had two future Hall of Famers in Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch and at shortstop he had the splendid Dandelion Pfeffer.  These youngsters learned under Death to Flying Things but became winners later on. 

In 1883 Ferguson caught on with the Philadelphia Quakers and hit .258 in his last good year as a player.  The following season he left the National League for the American Association and was part of a managerial carousel in 1884.  He ended his days as a player in 1884 but spent two more years managing the New York Metropolitans of the American Association.

THE NUMBERS

G 824/R 544/H 920/2B 102/3B 30/HR 1/RBI 357/BA .265/SA .313

AS MANAGER

W 417/L 516/PCT .447

www.19cbaseball.com

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1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Before baseball was a money-making enterprise, Ferguson was a star performer. His career totals are low because of the 30 game schedules he played, but Bob was a well-respected man of baseball’s early days, indicated by his player/manager assignments. His HOF chances are very weak.

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