Wednesday, February 28, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #56 Dave 'Boo' Ferriss

Dave Meadows 'Boo' Ferriss, SP, #33 (1945-1950)

65 W - 30 L, 3.64 ERA 144 G, 67 CG

Dave Meadows Ferriss was born December 5th in 1921. He came from a small town in the Mississippi Delta called Shaw. His childhood nickname 'Boo' came from his early inability to pronounce the word 'brother'.


Ferriss was the first baseball player ever to receive a full scholarship to Mississippi State University. He pitched there successfully on the 1941 and 1942 teams.

Dave's collegiate heroics caught the eye of the Red Sox front office and he was drafted in 1942. Obviously those were stormy times worldwide and before he had time to reach the major leagues Dave joined the armed forces to serve his country in World War Two. He served in the Army Air Forces for 26 months from 1942 to 1945 until he was discharged due to asthma.

After leaving the military Dave was sent to Sox minor league team in Louisville. After a very poor start by Boston that summer the Sox front office acted and Boo was called up. He made a stunning debut for the Sox on April 29, 1945, pitching a two-hitter. Ferriss was just 23 years old when he broke into the big leagues fresh out of the military, but for 1945 'Boo' Ferriss was the sensation of the American League. The 6'2" 208-lb rookie went 21-10 and defeated all seven opponent clubs the first time he faced them. He would then go on to set the major league record for scoreless innings to start a career, with an incredible 22 scoreless innings straight out of the gate.

Dave had plenty on his fastball but above all he was a smart pitcher.

"The main thing I learned about Ferris (sic) is contained in a remark made by an American League hitter. This hitter said: 'I know why I can't hit Ferris. He hides the ball behind his back and he uses his glove to shield the ball from the hitter. The glove screens the ball, and the hitter doesn't get a look at the ball at all, until it is almost on top of him.'" Author Bert Dunne in Play Ball! (1947)

For his rookie season Dave went a sensational 21-10. 1946 brought further glory. Supported by a powerful Red Sox lineup, he went 25-6, for a league-high .806 winning percentage, on the way to the 1946 pennant, and shut out St. Louis in World Series Game Three. Ferris started two games for the Sox in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning one of them, but the Sox lost the series 4-3, Ferris getting a no-decision in the deciding game.

Ferriss would hit too. A .250 lifetime hitter, he had 19 RBI in both 1945 and 1947, and was used 41 times as a lefthanded pinch hitter.

Sadly, while Dave's star shone bright, it had a relatively short lifespan in terms of years in the majors. His record in 1947 was an average 12-11. Arm troubles and asthma restricted him to 9 games started in 31 appearances in 1948. Dave's final Game was on April 18 and with that, by 1950, his playing career was over.

Ferriss was pitching coach for the Red Sox between 1955 and 1959, before becoming head coach of the Delta State University baseball programme. Author John Grisham once tried out for a spot on Ferriss' team at Delta State University. He was cut because he could not hit a curve ball. Ferriss guided Delta State to a 639-387 record and three appearances in the NCAA Division II College World Series, before retiring in 1988. He is a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame, and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. On November 14, 2002, he was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.

This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''


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I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Feriss this summer in Cleveland, MS. He is a humble and charming man, and wonderfully entertaining. He explained in detail how he pitched to Hank Greenberg, at his expense. I only wish I could have have spent more time with him. The Red Sox gave him a 2004 World Series ring, and he in turn donated it to the museum at Delta State that bears his name. He is a rare person. As a decades-long member of Red Sox nation, I am thrilled to have had the honor to meet him. He is a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

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