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King of K’s

Former Alpena County League pitcher Rex Ferguson being inducted into Hall of Fame

May 1, 2012
By JAMES ANDERSEN - News Sports Editor ( , The Alpena News

Rex Ferguson has no idea how many batters he struck out when he played in the Alpena County Baseball League.

But given the fact he pitched in the league for 14 years and, by his own estimation, never finished with less than 12 strikeouts a game, the number is undoubtedly very high.

Ferguson's wicked repertoire of pitches and pitching prowess have earned him a place in the 2011 class of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame. He will be inducted Saturday along with Nick Alexander, Matt Cameron and Craig Knechtel.

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As a pitcher for Hubbard Lake in the Alpena County Baseball League, Rex Ferguson performed as one of the best pitchers in the area. His career stats include a game with 23 strikeouts, a game with 21 strikeouts and several games with 18. Ferguson will be inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"It's wonderful. I couldn't believe it (when I was called)," Ferguson said of his induction.

At age 15, Ferguson began playing with Hubbard Lake in the Alpena County Baseball League and at 16, he began pitching after his manager noticed his ability to strikeout teammates with ease in batting practice.

Ferguson's Hubbard Lake teams were consistently among the top of the league standings and battled the likes of Alpena Township and Maple Ridge.

"One day I was waiting to go out on the ball field and I asked, 'who's pitching?' (Manager) Woody (Palmer) said, 'You are.'" Ferguson said. "I was striking out more guys in batting practice than the starting pitcher."

As a lefthander with a lively fastball and a good sinker, Ferguson put up numbers that would be the envy of any professional pitcher. He recorded 23 strikeouts in a game, two games of 21 strikeouts and several games with 18. Ferguson said he once struck out 32 batters in a 17-inning game against Maple Ridge. In another game, he threw a no-hitter against Alpena and still lost.

"I had a good sinker. I'd throw it overhand and bring it in and when it dropped out the catcher would catch it on the ground," Ferguson said. "I had a curveball where I would throw at (the batter's) head and the catcher would catch it at the batter's knees."

Growing up, Ferguson played baseball in the backyard with his brothers and eventually played with five of them on the same team in the county league. He went to Alpena High School for one year and made the baseball team before going to work on his family's farm.

Ferguson worked at General Motors in Flint for 31 years and retired at age 50, at which time he and his wife Donna, traveled the country in their motor home.

After his time in the Alpena County League, Ferguson pitched in the Tri County League in Flint until the age of 40 and then played softball until age 60.

When it comes time for his induction on Saturday, Ferguson will have plenty of supporters in the audience as more than a dozen family members plan on attending.

Though he isn't sure of his career numbers, Ferguson always will be fond of his years playing baseball for Hubbard Lake.

"I wish I did know (the numbers) because I had some pretty good days out there," Ferguson said. "I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed it."



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