One of the most outstanding and influential ballplayers of the 19th century, Ferguson
first attracted national attention in 1870 when, as captain of the Brooklyn Atlantics,
he drove in the tying run and scored the winning run as the Atlantics handed the
Cincinnati Red Stockings their first loss in two years. An outstanding leader, he
managed every team he played for from 1871 through 1884. Baseball's first switch-hitter,
he was only ordinary with the bat but was considered an outstanding fielder (although
the quaint nickname Death to Flying Things, signifying stellar play on fly balls,
was first given to Atlantics teammate Jack Chapman). Ferguson's primary contribution
to baseball was his forthright character and unquestioned honesty in a time when
many baseball players had low morals and were often the pawns of gamblers. In 1872
he was elected president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players
and held that position for several years, leading the fight for honest baseball that
resulted in the establishment of the National League in 1876. Quick-tempered and
hot-headed, he became an umpire in his later years, and once broke a player's arm
with a bat to finish an argument.
»May 18th, 1881: When Detroit base runner Sadie Houck collides with Bob Ferguson of Troy at 2B, Ferguson becomes indignant and slaps Houck in the face. The Detroit club prefers charges against Ferguson with the league office, but nothing will be done.
»September 19th, 1885: Buffalo's "Big Four" (Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, and Deacon White) are to play for Detroit today, but Nick Young orders umpire Bob Ferguson to forfeit the game to New York. Detroit withdraws the players, and they are forced to play out the season with Buffalo.
»April 27th, 1886: Having failed to get a $1,500 salary from the NL to umpire this season, veteran Bob Ferguson signs with the AA and officiates his first game in Baltimore.