R. I. P. Bob Ferguson
* Legendary newspaperman and author Bob Ferguson passed away at age 83 in Ottawa. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list …. Canadians in College 2016 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
Bob Ferguson was Wikipedia before google was a gleam in of the eyes of world wide web founders Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andreessen and Brian Behlendorf.
His Who’s Who in Canadian Sport was an early resource must for libraries, news rooms and any one else wanting a reference guide to check on the best of the best of this country’s athletes.
Ferguson’s book had four versions of over 2,800 athletes and sports figures -- and this was in 1985 -- with a complete listing of Canadian national champions, Canadian Olympic team (dating back to 1904), Canadian Halls of Fame and its members.
The first time I ever met Ferg was in 1974 at a sandlot game at Ross Potter Field in Alta Vista in Ottawa. The Brockville Bunnies were playing the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians in the Connie Mack regionals.
Ferg was at the Ottawa Citizen and I was employed by the long gone Ottawa Journal.
He told me about his son Scott who scored 10 or 11 goals his first week at a hockey camp a few years before that ... and only one the second week.
I asked why the goal shortage.
“He played goal,” said Ferg with a laugh, the kind proud fathers give.
Back then we both covered college football and hoops -- Don Gilbert’s undefeated Vanier Cup 1975 champion University of Ottawa Gee-Gees or the Carleton Ravens.
And two years later not only was I working with Ferg at The Citizen, but I was also coaching Ferg’s son Scott for the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians.
Ed Jordan played first, Brian Frobel, brother of Doug Frobel played second, Scott was at third, while Doug Miller and Phil Franko were at short as Mark Gryba and Billy Courchaine led the team to the Stan Musial championships in East Meadow, N.Y. on Long Island, not far from the Nassau County Coliseum. Scott knocked in a key run in the top of the ninth in a 4-2 win over Maryland.
My second father Eddie MacCabe, who hired me at the Journal in 1973 from the Kingston Whig-Standard went to the Citizen in 1977 and hired me again eight months later. He gave me a column entitled At The Trots. It wasn’t a travel piece about faraway vacation lands but covering the horse races at Connaught Raceway or Rideau-Carelton Raceway.
Ferg was a blood hound when it came to a news story and the same with doing research for his book: Who’s Who.
I knew first hand when Ferg asked me to find the vital statistics on my father Edwin (Chaucer) Elliott, who was elected to the Hockey
Hall of Fame in 1960. I gave Ferg the year he was elected, the date he died and the year he was born.
Not so fast.
I didn’t have the date my grandfather was born. That took some fun hours at the microfiche.
Then, a few years later my father was inducted into the Queen’s University Hall of Fame and Ferg was back wanting more.
This time I was prepared.
Along about then the Ottawa Valley fell in love with the emerging Montreal Expos. Ferg and I split covering the Expos beat in 1979 and 1980, sitting at the Olympic Stadium next to the legendary Michael Farber, then of the Montreal Gazette and a row in front of the equally legendary Serge Touchette, the writing machine from Le Journal de Montreal. Then, Graham Parley took over the sports department.
Ferg also covered golf and curling ... and did research for his book.
Sports didn’t end in 1977 the year of the book’s first publication ... championships were won, athletes were honoured. The reference book was published again in 1985, again in 1999 and finally in 2005.
He mentored young scribes like Donald Campbell and others.
Ferg was born July 1, 1931, at Windsor, Ont. sang for his supper as professional singer, worked in a bank tend then joined the London Free Press sports department in 1952. He worked baseball broadcasts for London radio CFPL, looked after stats for the Intercounty League and managed curling clubs in London and Strathroy, Ont. And he owned the London Majors franchise for two years.
Ferg, a member of the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, likely made his own book.
He worked at the Ottawa Citizen from January 1967 until his retirement on Aug. 1, 1996.
And on Sunday he died at the age of 83.
Sympathies are extended to Scott and Alison, Shane and Lindsey, his grandchildren Taylor, Jordan, Darien, Aaron and Alex as well as great-grand child Elyza.
A Memorial Service will be held in the spring.
In memoriam donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation are appreciated.
Condolences and Sharing Memories may be made at www.kellyfh.ca