Born in Shaw on 5 December 1921, David Meadow “Boo” Ferriss devoted his life to baseball on both the national and local levels. Ferriss first gained recognition for a brief yet exceptional career with the Boston Red Sox. After a shoulder injury ended his career, Ferriss returned to Mississippi and embarked on a twenty-six-year career as the head coach of Delta State University’s baseball team.
After graduating from Shaw High School, Ferriss played baseball at Mississippi State University, where he was an All–Southeastern Conference pitcher. In 1942, after his junior season, the Boston Red Sox signed Ferriss to a professional contract. His rise to the Major Leagues was interrupted by his service in the US Army from 1942 to 1945, but he made his debut with the Red Sox on 29 April of that year and went on to post a 21–10 record in his rookie season. In 1946 he went 25–6 for the Red Sox, helping them to an American League pennant. He beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4–0 in Game 3 of the World Series and started Game 7, though he did not get the decision as the Red Sox lost the game and the Series.
In 1947 Ferriss was expected to play a major role in Boston’s pitching rotation, but he sustained a shoulder injury and never again showed the brilliance that he had exhibited during his first two years in the league. His final Major League appearance came in 1950, and he finished with a career 65–30 record. Ferriss returned to the Red Sox as pitching coach in 1955, remaining in that role for five seasons.
Ferriss returned to Mississippi in the fall of 1959 to become the head baseball coach and athletic director at Delta State College (now Delta State University). He served in that role until 1967, when he left to become the athletic director at Mississippi State. Ferriss returned to Delta State a year later and resumed his head coaching duties in 1970. He compiled an overall record of 639–387–8 at Delta State, leading the Statesmen to four Gulf South Conference championships and three trips to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II College World Series (1977, 1978, and 1982). His 1978 team finished second in the nation. He retired after the 1988 season and was selected as a member of the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Ferriss’s impact on baseball in Mississippi continues to be felt. Beginning in 2004, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum began presenting the Boo Ferriss Award to the state’s top college baseball player. The baseball facility at Delta State bears his name, and a museum dedicated to his life is located on campus. In 2012 he received the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame’s Rube Award for his contribution to sports in the state. Ferriss died, at age ninety-four, on November 24, 2016.
- Baseball-reference.com website, www.baseball-reference.com
- Rick Cleveland, Boo: A Life in Baseball, Well Lived (2009)
- Sam Gwynne, Boston Globe (19 February 2006)
- David Halberstam, Summer of ’49; David Halberstam, The Teammates; Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum website, www.msfame.com