Rick Ferrell, Knuckleball Catcher

A Hall of Famer’s Life Behind the Plate and in the Front Office


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About the Book

In 1947, after 18 major league seasons with the Browns, Senators, and Red Sox, Rick Ferrell retired as the longest playing catcher in the American League. His record 1,806 games would stand for more than 40 years, surpassed finally by another Hall of Famer, Carlton Fisk. A stout defender and choosy batter, Ferrell was an eight-time All-Star who caught a rotation of four knuckleball pitchers for the 1945 Washington Senators team that lost the American League pennant in the final week of the season. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons he went on to work for the Detroit Tigers for 43 years, serving as coach, scout, and front-office executive. This biography includes highlights of Ferrell’s career, letters written as Detroit’s general manager, 15 interviews with Ferrell’s friends and peers, as well as thirty-four photographs, some never before published.

About the Author(s)

Kerrie Ferrell, daughter of Rick Ferrell, grew up in a family of professional baseball players. After realizing she would not become the first female big leaguer, she became an English instructor and writer. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Baseball historian William M. Anderson has authored several books on baseball and lives in Ludington, Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Kerrie C. Ferrell with William M. Anderson

Foreword by Donald Honig

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: 37 photos, statistics, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4796-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5837-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
Foreword by Donald Honig      5

Part I: Behind the Plate
1. 1905–1928: Early Life in North Carolina and the Minors      9
2. 1929–1932: Rookie Years with the St. Louis Browns      23
3. 1933–1934: The Red Sox, First All-Star Game, and Wes      41
4. 1935–1937: Beantown’s Brother Battery      61
5. 1937–1941: Ferrells Traded to Washington Senators      85
6. 1941–1943: Back to St. Louis as World War II Heats Up      114
7. 1944–1945: Catching Four Knuckleballers      127
8. 1946–1949: From Catcher to Coach      145

Part II: Front Office
9. 1950–1958: The Detroit Tigers’ Coach and Scout      157
10. 1959 –1965: The Tigers’ Front Office/General Manager      177
11. 1966 –1973: The Winning Years      197
12. 1974 –1983: Rebuilding with Ralph Houk and Sparky Anderson      213
13. 1984 –1992: The 1984 World Series, Baseball Hall of Fame, and Changing Times      235
14. 1993 –1995: Farewell and Epilogue      262

Appendix A. Hall of Fame Memberships      269
Appendix B. Career Statistics      270
Appendix C. 1929–1947: Catching Highlights      272
Appendix D. 1950–1992: Executive Highlights      274
Chapter Notes      275
Bibliography      279
Index      283