Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2021

By Ken Keuffel

Pfeiffer News Service

The late Joseph S. Ferebee Sr., Pfeiffer’s legendary baseball coach, “was a remarkable teacher. He touched us all, and his lessons have lasted us a lifetime. We love you, Coach.”

With these words, 1968 Pfeiffer graduate Bob Gulledge, a close friend of Ferebee’s who played for him at Pfeiffer, opens a new book called “His Field, Our Dreams: A Lifetime of Baseball with Legendary Coach Joe Ferebee” (Palmetto Publishing). Proceeds from sales of the book will benefit Pfeiffer’s baseball program.

Ferebee, a native of Mocksville, became the winningest baseball coach in North Carolina college and American Legion history. Between 1956 and 1987, he won 677 games as Pfeiffer’s head coach. He won another 694 as the coach of several American Legion teams, four of which won state titles. He led Salisbury High School’s baseball team to a state championship in 1955.

Throughout the book — which Gulledge and Gary Weart, a 1971 Pfeiffer graduate, helped compile — many of Ferebee’s former players and friends pay tribute to him. All told, 67 people have contributed remembrances in the book, which has been edited and proofed by Margaret Whitt, a 1968 Pfeiffer graduate. Weart recruited some contributors, wrote his own piece, impacted the design of the book’s cover and title and supplied many of its photographs.

“Each individual writer made an A+ on his or her story,” said Gulledge, who played second base behind Griggy Porter, a 1969 graduate, who just missed being called up to the Chicago Cubs’ major league team. “When you read this book, you will see that Coach picked his players on merit but loved us all. Many of us became close friends of his after Pfeiffer. Recruiting all these people for the book was not a problem because they all had great respect for Coach.”

Marty Brennaman, the Hall of Famer voice of the Cincinnati Reds for 46 years until his retirement in 2019, has written the book’s foreword. He first encountered Ferebee’s coaching prowess when he called American Legion games.

Among the book’s contributors is  Tommy Eaton, a 1960 graduate and the star of the Salisbury state title winners and the third-place finishers in the 1955 Little World Series. He became a lifelong friend of his former coach.

“His Field” is the idea of Gulledge, who only wishes “we could all read the book to Coach.” It is the latest of several ways that Pfeiffer’s baseball alumni have been working to keep Ferebee’s memory alive. In 2019, they celebrated Ferebee’s 100th birthday by making a three-part gift to Pfeiffer.

The gift included commissioning 1984 graduate Mark Stephenson to paint a portrait of Ferebee that hangs in Merner Gymnasium, establishing the Joe Ferebee Award and starting a Legacy Fund. The award is to be given annually to a player who best exemplifies Ferebee’s values, and the fund provides annual support for Pfeiffer’s baseball program.

Gulledge expressed satisfaction with the book project. “It became a way for us to help people, especially those in the Pfeiffer community, remember Coach Ferebee’s legacy and accomplishments,” he said. “

Ken Keuffel  has served as Pfeiffer’s assistant director of communications since December 2019. He welcomes story ideas from Pfeiffer’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. A form for submitting story ideas is at www.pfeiffer.edu/newsform.

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