Bob Ferguson

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.