Richard Benjamin Ferrell (October 12 1905 – July 27 1995) was an American catcher in Major League Baseball, and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Strong and durable, Ferrell was an outstanding catcher for the St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators between 1929 and 1947. He retired having caught 1,806 games, an American League record that stood until Carlton Fisk surpassed it in 1988.
Rick Ferrell was born in Durham, North Carolina, and he attended Guilford College. His brother Wes is considered one of the best-hitting pitchers in baseball history, setting several major league records for hitting by a pitcher; he also hit more career home runs - 38, in 548 games - than Rick would (28, in 1,884 games).
In 1933, the Ferrell brothers were members of the inaugural American League All-Star team in the first All-Star Game played, in which Rick caught all nine innings. The same year, and for the first time in baseball history, brothers on opposing teams homered in the same game. Later, the Ferrells would be reunited again.
On April 19, 1929, Ferrell played his first major league game with the Browns, posting a .290 batting average in four seasons. After batting .300 in 1931, Ferrell had a very good year in 1932. Demonstrating that catchers could hit and excel defensively, batting from the #7 spot in the St. Louis order, Ferrell hit .315 with 30 doubles and 65 runs batted in, while leading AL catchers with 78 assists. His performance caught the attention of Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, who was trying to rebuild his team. On May 9, 1933, Ferrell was traded to Boston.
Between 1933-36, Ferrell broke Red Sox catchers' records in batting, doubles, home runs and runs batted in. His .302 batting average with Boston is 12th on the club's all-time list. Rick's brother Wes joined him in 1934, and three years later the brothers were packaged in a trade to Washington.
Ferrell returned to St. Louis in 1941 and was sent again to Washington in 1944. In the 1945 season, he set a record hard to match when he regularly caught four knuckleball pitchers. At the age of 41, Ferrell batted .303 in his last season. He had a fine eye and was remarkably selective, receiving 931 walks while fanning only 277 times. Ferrell compiled a .281 batting average, 28 home runs and 734 runs batted in, with 687 runs scored, 324 doubles, 45 triples and 29 stolen bases. In 1884 games played, he achieved an impressive .378 career on base percentage, being selected an All-Star seven times (1933-38, 1944).
After retiring, Ferrell served as a Senators coach, followed by over 30 years in the Detroit Tigers organization as a coach, scout, general manager, and, at over 80 years of age, executive consultant. Selected by the Veterans Committee, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. Keith Olbermann, in his book The Big Show, singled out Ferrell in his argument claiming Hall of Fame voting is fundamentally flawed, writing "If Rick Ferrell is in, put 'em all in."
Rick Ferrell died in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan at the age of 89.
- Thompson, Dick (2005). The Ferrell Brothers of Baseball. McFarland & Company, Inc.. ISBN 0-7864-2006-5.
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