Wes Ferrell

“Wes was a marvelous character,” recalled Bill Werber of teammate Ferrell. “I’ve seen him, after being removed from a ball game, hit himself in the jaws with both fists and nearly knock himself out… jump in the air and crunch the face out of an expensive watch… tear card deck after card deck to pieces because he wasn’t getting good hands. He hated to lose, at anything. He was a very determined competitor, the kind you like to have on your side.”

Ferrell, an alumnus of Guilford College in his native North Carolina, set a ML record by posting 20 or more victories in each of his first four seasons (1929-32, with Cleveland). With Boston, the 6’2″ righthander also won a league-high 25 games in 1935, and was 20-15 in 1936. On his way to a .601 career winning percentage, he led AL pitchers four times in complete games, and three times in innings pitched. In 1931 Ferrell won 13 consecutive decisions, and no-hit the Browns (4/29). Two years later, he was named to the original AL All-Star team.

Ferrell was one of the best-hitting pitchers baseball has known. He set records for most single-season HR (nine, in 1931) and career HR (38) by a pitcher, and averaged .280 lifetime. “I didn’t see any big deal in being a good hitter as well as a good pitcher,” said Ferrell, a two-time minor league batting champion as an outfielder after his ML playing days. “A lot of guys could do it if they tried.”

Ferrell’s older brother and sometimes batterymate, Rick, is enshrined in Cooperstown. (A third Ferrell brother, George, had a 20-year minor league career.) Journalist Bob Broeg suggested that Wes, too, could have made the Hall of Fame if arm trouble (which changed him from a blinding fastballer into a curveball and off-speed specialist) hadn’t curtailed his career. Broeg also wrote, “If…there was one major difference between [Wes and Rick] Ferrell, it was in their temperament. Wes was a prima donna and hotheaded. Rick, though he lost his cool occasionally, was… a soft-spoken team man.” Wes’s Cleveland manager, Roger Peckinpaugh, fined and suspended him for refusing to leave a 1932 game. His Bosox skipper, Joe Cronin, fined him for leaving a 1936 game without permission. Later, as a minor league manager, Ferrell was slapped with suspensions for belting an umpire, and removing his team from the field.