Schreiner: How Charlie Ferguson and a Toad could have altered Phillies history

From SABR member Chris Schreiner at Bullpen by Committee on May 13, 2015:

Charlie Ferguson was a young promising pitcher for the Philadelphia Quakers in the 1880’s who more than held his own with the bat. SABR biographer Paul Hoffman claims that Charlie Ferguson was one of the “first tragic figures in major-league baseball” and could have “become one of the greatest players of all time”. Ferguson passed away at the age of 25 before the 1888 season from typhoid fever. His career stats were impressive.

On some days when he wasn’t pitching, he played in the field. In what would be his final season, he played 27 games at 2B, 5 at 3B, and 6 in the OF. In 300 plate appearances, he hit .337 with 85 RBIs, 13 SB, and an .886 OPS. He was well on his way to being an everyday player.

In his SABR bio, Hoffman notes that in 1925 – a whole 37 years after his death – a sports editor for the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger called Ferguson “the greatest ballplayer who ever lived.” Hoffman concludes the bio by saying “One can only imagine how many games Ferguson might have won or what kind of everyday player he would have developed into had he lived to play an additional 12 to 15 years.”

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Originally published: May 13, 2015. Last Updated: May 13, 2015.