NG Sports Editor
Yet another one of the country's outstanding sports figures has died.
Veteran sportsman and disciplinarian Vincent Lloyd Ferguson passed away around 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning at his home from an apparent heart attack. He was 71.
Ferguson, who played professional baseball and served in every capacity of the sport, was well-known and respected in the community.
He was an active force in basketball and baseball as an athlete, a coach, an official, an administrator, and most recently as an advisor to the various leagues and federations in the country, thereby leading to his induction into the country's National Hall of Fame in 2003.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Desmond Ban-nister said yesterday that as this country's pre-eminent sports administrator, Ferguson "embodied all that is good about Bahamian sports, inspiring in athletes and spectators alike, the notion that they all shared an equal stake in the growth and development of The Bahamas through whatever noble medium they sought to pursue."
Even up to the time of his death, Ferguson was still an active member in the sports community. He was working feverishly as the co-chairman of the Priory Recreational Centre's Basketball Historical Committee, which coincidentally was scheduled to host a press conference today.
Along with Tom 'The Bird' Grant, Winston 'Tappy' Davis, Fred 'Papa' Smith, Sterling Quant and other committee members, they were formulating a detailed outline and synopsis of the history of basketball in the country, dating back to the 1950s.
Long-time friend and associate Grant said that he is confident that the work of documenting the history of basketball in the country would continue despite Ferguson's untimely demise.
"Everyone is stunned by this. Up to last week we were still having meetings, and not one day he complained about pain - that's the kind of man he was," said Tom Grant Sr.
"Vince was a very respected individual in education and sports in this country. He was stern and once he believed in something he would not back down. I had many dealings with him as an athlete and as an official, and I can tell you that he called the game the way he saw it.
"He was a fair man, a man of integrity, and a man who believed in the words he said. Basically, he led a good life."
Ferguson was known to suffer from prostrate cancer, but it was an apparent heart attack which proved to be the fatal blow.
As a sportsman, he was one of the more noted presidents of the Bahamas Baseball Association and the Bahamas Basketball Federation, formerly the Bahamas Amateur Basketball Association.
He also served on the executive boards of the Association of Former and Present Professional Baseball Players of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Olympic Association.
Spending some time in the Braves' organization of Major League Baseball, he is the country's fourth former professional baseball player to pass away in the past five years, joining Andre Rodgers, Tony Curry and Wilfred 'Sudgy' Culmer. Ferguson played Class D baseball with the Wellsville Braves of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1961 and the Cedar Rapids Braves of the Midwest League in 1962.
He played Class A baseball with the Yakima Braves of the Northwest League in 1963, Class AA baseball with the Austin Senators of the Texas League in 1964 and 1965, and finally Class AAA baseball with the Richmond Braves of the International League in 1966 and 1967.
In seven seasons as an outfielder, he finished with a .292 batting average with 55 homeruns and 207 RBIs, turning in his best year in 1962 with the Cedar Rapids Braves when he batted at a .317 clip with 16 homers.
Ferguson also spent some time with national teams, serving as the manager of two baseball squads which took part in the National Baseball Congress in Wichita, Kansas in successive years of 1968 and 1969.
As an educator, he served as the principal of Aquinas College, R.M. Bailey and A.F. Adderley Secondary Schools, and also as the Vice Principal of St. Augustine's College where he got his early education.
"He has left us, and we are very sad by his passing," said Winston 'Tappy' Davis. "Vince was very honest and a straight forward guy. You might not agree with him sometimes, but his view was always respected - he was not a pretender.
"He believed in family life and he saw so many areas in our Bahamian society that needed to be addressed. His vision had not materialized as much as he wanted it to, but he kept on trying and it is my hope that there will be a development out of all that he did and tried to do in our little Bahamas."
Ferguson died around 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning at his home. He is survived by his wife Mary and his two children, Anne-Marie and Alex.