Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interview Part 4: Jim Ferguson, Passion For

New Britain Stadium in Connecticut. Jim Ferguson now works at Connecticut's Wallingford Country Club. (Greatest 21 Days)
Part 1: Better Way | Part 2: All About
Part 3: Great Thrill | Part 4: Passion For

Jim Ferguson recalled the end of his playing career as a shock.

After four seasons spent with independent Salt Lake and in the Cardinals system, along with time spent in Australia and Europe, Ferguson found himself out of the game.

"It was probably one of the most difficult things in my life," Ferguson recalled recently to The Greatest 21 Days, "because that's all I did. All I wanted to do since I was young was play professional baseball."

Ferguson soon found another game to love - and teach. Ferguson turned to golf.

He's now spent more than a decade with Wallingford Country Club in his native Connecticut, serving as an assistant PGA professionals. He teaches junior camps, beginners clinics. He teaches golf.

"I have a great time," Ferguson told The Greatest 21 Days recently. "I love it. I have a passion for it and that's important. You've got to love what you do."

Ferguson spoke to The Greatest 21 Days by phone recently from his home state of Connecticut, covering both his baseball career and his golf career.
New Britain Stadium in August 2015. Jim Ferguson works at Wallingford Country Club in Wallingford, Conn. (Greatest 21 Days)
His baseball career seemingly ended in spring 1991 when Ferguson learned he wasn't in the Cardinals' plans. But it wasn't completely over.

Ferguson still believed he could play. There were suggestions that he could become a manager or a coach, but he believed he could do that later.

His last shot came from an old college roommate, Scott Khoury. Khoury had made a name for himself playing baseball in the Netherlands. Ferguson got a call to play over there and he turned to Khoury for advice.

"He goes, 'Listen man, think about it. I know it's difficult but you have an opportunity here,'" Ferguson recalled Khoury telling him. "'The writing's on the wall. I don't believe you're going to make it to the big leagues, come on over and and it's a great experience to play in Europe."

Ferguson played for the Pirates team. He recalled the added pressure there to perform as an American and perform well, but he did perform well. He helped them to the 1991 European Cup. The Pirates were out-manned by a strong Italian team.

"That was a tremendous experience," Ferguson said.

He had the chance to return for a second season. He turned that down to take a shot at signing with the new Marlins organization. That didn't work out and his career ended.

Jim Ferguson with the Wallingford Country Club in Connecticut. (Greatest 21 Days)
Out of baseball, Ferguson worked as a stock broker and in real estate. But Ferguson was always an athlete. He recalled not being able to really adjust to a 9-5 job.

So, he got into golf. He was decent at the game. He recalled playing the game when he was younger. He grew up down the street from a golf course. He never really took it seriously.

But he continued to play. As a baseball player, he recalled getting to take his clubs along on road trips if the team was winning. It was only after his baseball days that he took golf serious enough to pursue it.

He tried some tours in the Carolinas. He wasn't good enough to keep that up, but he was good enough to be a PGA professional at a course.

"I love the game of golf," Ferguson said. "I love to teach and help people along with their games."

Looking back on his baseball career, Ferguson knows he was lucky to have the career he had.

"I was very fortunate to get as high as I did," Ferguson said. "I got to meet some great people along the way, and travel a lot. ... I had a very fulfilling career."

Part 1: Better Way | Part 2: All About
Part 3: Great Thrill | Part 4: Passion For

Be sure to read Part 1: Jim Ferguson, Better Way

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