Tommie Ferguson was later the equipment manager for the Los Angeles Angels.
Tommie Ferguson was later the equipment manager for the Los Angeles Angels.Globe staff/File 1964

While serving as an Army private in North Korea in 1953, Tommie Ferguson of Brookline wrote a letter on March 27 to a Globe sportswriter to reminisce about his teenage days as a bat boy for the Boston Braves and lament the team’s announcement that month that it was moving to Milwaukee.

“I just can’t believe it,” Mr. Ferguson wrote to the Globe’s Harold Kaese, who published a column based on the letter several days later. “I was only a bat boy for them, but they meant a lot to me.” The team “treated me so good,” he added, and “I considered myself a real fan.”


A Brookline High School graduate, he was the bat boy when the Braves won the 1948 National League pennant, only to lose to the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. Mr. Ferguson wrote to Kaese that he hoped to find a place in baseball after his Army service.

His wish came true. He was hired as equipment manager by the Milwaukee Braves, whose manager, Fred Haney, later became the first general manager of the Los Angeles Angels when it became a Major League team, and he brought Mr. Ferguson with him as that team’s first equipment manager.

Mr. Ferguson, who went on to become the Angels’ traveling secretary and returned to Milwaukee as traveling secretary and a vice president for the Brewers until 1983, died in his Tustin, Calif., home Monday of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86.

“He was one of the last living links to our beloved National League franchise and a great friend of The Sports Museum,” said Richard Johnson, the curator of the TD Garden museum. “Tommie was the envy of his Brookline High classmates when he was awarded a National League championship ring, when his mentor that glorious summer was team traveling secretary and former Red Sox star left fielder Duffy Lewis, who became a lifelong friend.”


Braves players presented Mr. Ferguson with an inscribed wristwatch “just because they liked him,” Kaese wrote in 1953.

The former bat boy shared his memories and memorabilia at numerous reunions in Boston held by the Boston Braves Historical Association, including the inaugural get-together in 1992.

That affair was held on the site of the team’s old clubhouse and attracted an overflow crowd of about 200 to Boston University’s Eilberg Lounge at the Case Athletic Center, where former players and team officials were the featured attraction, along with a display of memorabilia. Mr. Ferguson traveled to the reunion from California, where he lived in Tustin in later years.

“Tommie never met a cigar he didn’t like, and there was never a person who didn’t like him,” Ross Newhan, a close friend and retired California sportswriter, wrote in a Facebook tribute. “The walls of his family room in Tustin — as well as all those cartons in his garage — are filled with the memorabilia of a lifetime in baseball.”

In 1988, the 40th anniversary of the Boston Braves’ World Series appearance, Mr. Ferguson helped The Sports Museum organize a reunion of the 1948 team and donated his full Braves uniform to the museum.

During its Boston years, the team played home games at Braves Field, which is now the site of BU’s Nickerson Field. The team left Milwaukee and began playing in Atlanta in 1966.


In his 1953 column, Kaese noted that Mr. Ferguson had “jitters” before the 1948 World Series because “he was afraid he would muff a foul ball as it rolled off the backstop.”

In a retrospective on the ’48 Braves by Globe sportswriter Larry Whiteside, Mr. Ferguson said the team’s veterans were getting their due at last but were not going to repeat as National League champions.

Mr. Ferguson, whose baseball career included time scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies in Southern California, said the ’48 season “was the last hurrah, and a lot of them knew it. They slumped in August, but had just enough gas in the tank to get through. They had courage.”

He added that “when you look back, you see a combination of guys who might have had their best days with other clubs. But for this season they jelled.”

Led by pitchers Johnny Sain and Warren Spahn, the Braves went 21-7 in September and October to finish far ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the title.

Although they drew nearly 1.5 million fans to Braves Field that year, the team subsequently faded in the standings and at the gate. The low attendance for the 1952 season sent the Braves packing for Milwaukee.

Mr. Ferguson was the son of Brookline police officer Thomas Ferguson and the former Vera Corliss.

In 1958, Mr. Ferguson married Lois Collins, who is known as Petey. They met at Milwaukee County Stadium, where she was watching an industrial league game.


“He grew up when families like the Yawkeys and Perinis and Autrys owned teams. It was those personal relationships that meant the most to him because he felt he was part of a family,” Petey Ferguson said.

“He loved people. And he was close to the ballplayers, always looking out for them, especially as a traveling secretary.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Ferguson leaves two daughters, Kerry Ann Adam of Green Bay, Wis., and Bonnie Goldstein of Rock Hill, S.C., and seven grandchildren.

Mr. Ferguson’s wife said a funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Feb. 3 in St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Tustin.

Burial will be in Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.

“People would visit our house, and he loved to shine their shoes,” Petey recalled. “Perhaps it was reminder of what he used to do in the clubhouse so many years ago for the ballplayers.”

In his letter about the Braves’ move in 1953, Mr. Ferguson was resigned to a new baseball reality in Boston.

“I’m sure it will be hard to face all those Red Sox fans when I come home. I sure wish the Braves all the luck in the world,” Mr. Ferguson wrote.

And of the public’s response to the team’s more recent woes, he added that “when you found a Braves fan, you knew you were talking to a real fan and not a front-runner.”

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.