Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1976 Topps #329 - Joe Ferguson

  • Joe Ferguson was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968. He played in the minors from 1968-1972. Ferguson had some cups of coffee with the Dodgers in 1970 (.250 in 4 AB), 1971 (.216 in 102 AB), and 1972 (.292 in 24 AB). On July 18, 1971 Joe hit a leadoff home run in the 9th inning to break up a no-hit bid by Luke Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Ferguson was the regular catcher for the Dodgers in 1973. In 113 games he batted .263 with 25 HR and 88 RBI. He also set a major league record for catchers with the fewest errors in a season (3).
  • In 1974 Steve Yeager came up to the Dodgers. The Dodgers came up with a way to keep both players in the lineup as much as possible. Yeager caught against left-handed pitchers while Ferguson played right field. Ferguson usually caught against right-handed pitchers. Joe played in 111 games in 1974 and batted .252 with 16 HR and 57 RBI. Ferguson had two big moments in the 1974 World Series. In game 1 RF Ferguson cut in front of CF Jimmy Wynn to catch a fly ball and then threw out Sal Bando (who had tagged up at third base) at the plate. In game 2 Joe hit a 2-run homer to lead the Dodgers to their only win in the series.
  • In 1975 Ferguson didn't play after July 1. He batted .208 with 5 HR and 23 RBI in 66 games. Joe was used mostly in right field by the Dodgers in 1976 as Yeager took over the full-time catching duties. Ferguson was batting .222 with six homers on June 15 when he and two others were traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Reggie Smith. The Cardinals started Joe in 45 games behind the plate. Altogether it wasn't a great season for Ferguson -- he batted .211 with 10 HR and 39 RBI. After the 1976 season Joe was traded to the Houston Astros.
  • Joe had a better year in 1977. He was the starting catcher for the Astros and batted .257 with 16 HR and 61 RBI. Ferguson got off to a slow start in 1978 (.207 in 150 at bats) and was traded back to the Dodgers for two players to be named later (which turned out to be Rafael Landestoy and Jeffrey Leonard). Joe hit a little bit better for the Dodgers and altogether batted .224 with 14 HR and 50 RBI in 348 at bats. Ferguson was hitless in two at bats during the NLCS and he doubled twice in four at bats in the World Series.
  • In 1979 Ferguson returned to his familiar role as a catcher/right fielder. He batted .262 with 20 HR and 69 RBI in 122 games. Joe was used as a backup and a pinch hitter in 1980, batting .238 with 9 HR and 29 RBI in 172 at bats. On October 3, 1980 Ferguson hit a 10th inning game-winning home run against the Houston Astros. It was the first of three games in a row the Dodgers won in order to force a playoff for the NL West title. Joe also sparked a bench-clearing brawl during that series when he kneed Alan Ashby while tagging him out in a play at the plate.
  • Ferguson couldn't get it going in 1981. The Dodgers brought up Mike Scioscia, which really diminished Joe's playing time. In fact he didn't spend any time at catcher for the Dodgers that year. Ferguson was batting .143 in 14 at bats when he was released on August 13. He was picked up by the California Angels on September 1 and batted .233 in 30 at bats.
  • Joe spent his last two seasons as a backup and pinch hitter. In 1982 he batted .226 with 3 HR in 84 at bats. In 1983 Ferguson was batting .074 in 27 at bats when he was released on July 6.
  • After his playing career Ferguson coached and managed at various levels. He coached with the Texas Rangers from 1986-1987 and with the Dodgers from 1988-1994. He managed in the minors most of the time since '94, mainly in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Joe managed the Camden Riversharks of the Atlantic League in 2008 and 2009.
  • Liked to face: Jim Kaat (.412 in 17 AB); Steve Rogers (.370 in 27 AB); Bob Forsch (.350 in 20 AB)
  • Hated to face: Dale Murray (.053 in 19 AB); Jim Lonborg (.077 in 26 AB); Fred Norman (.093 in 43 AB)

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