Ferguson Important Part Of Local Sports History

Ferguson Important Part Of Local Sports History
by Jeffrey Reed

No other colleague has helped shape my career in sports journalism as did sportswriter Bob Ferguson. Ferguson died November 23 at age 83. He is survived by his sister, Liz, sons Scott and Shane, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

In 1993 and early-1994, as I researched for my book, EBBA 40 Years of Baseball, Ferguson and I spoke almost daily. It was then that I learned of Ferguson’s deep love of Canadian sports. After all, Fergie is author of, Who’s Who in Canadian Sport (first published in 1977), and a member of the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.

Bob Ferguson

If not for Ferguson, EBBA 40 Years of Baseball would not have come to fruition. Not only does my book rely heavily on Ferguson’s original stories which appeared in The London Free Press in 1955, but it also stems from numerous chats and get-togethers with Fergie during my year of research. I knew instantly that this man was not only a legendary sports journalist, but even more importantly one who shared with me a deep love of sports history.

Shortly before he died, Ferguson recalled his own youth. “I was an average athlete. Probably a little sub-par!” he said, with that big laugh of his. “But I had the interest in writing. So I decided, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.”

Born in Windsor in 1931, Ferguson – as the saying goes – was not cheated by life. He was a professional singer and a bank teller before he joined the Free Press newsroom in 1952. No dust ever gathered on Fergie – he was also a baseball commentator for CFPL radio, and Intercounty Baseball League statistician. He was general manager of the Ivanhoe Curling Club 1964-66 and GM of Strathroy Golf and Country Club in ’66 before leaving for the Ottawa Citizen in 1967. He retired in 1996.

“I’ve probably covered every sport, played by the best and the worst,” recalled Fergie late in life, “and sometimes the ones played by the worst were the best. They were genuine. It was mostly kids, and you knew they were giving it everything they had. It was a lot of fun and it was a good life.”

A knowledgeable baseball man, Ferguson was recruited by local baseball legend Frank Colman to help plan London’s first truly-organized minor sports league: EBBA.

“I gave them their name,” recalled Ferguson. “They were batting around different names, coming up with all kinds of stuff. I said, why not call them, Eager Beavers? They’re all eager beavers! And it stuck!”

Ferguson was owner-general manager of the IBL’s London Pontiacs in 1963-64. “I was the league statistician,” said Ferguson. “The (London) team owner decided without telling anybody that he wasn’t going to field a team this particular year. I’m at the meeting, and it’s time to put in the entry fee, and there’s no London representative. I said, there’s something wrong here! I put in the entry fee – it cost me $50!

“So I owned the franchise,” remembered Ferguson. “I got all the players together and we formed a share-the-wealth organization, if there was any – and there wasn’t! We went to London Motor products and became the London Pontiacs.”

Constantly during my year of research, Fergie was on the phone with me, encouraging me to finish the job, and reminding me what a great thing it was to remember our past.

I’ll never forget Bob Ferguson for his kindness, generosity and his true love of Canadian sports.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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