For purposes of this web site, it started out with a comment from
Fred Brack's reminiscences on our Reminiscences
page, excerpted here:
[Regarding remote sports broadcasts,] we had to rely on the telephone company
to install a line for each remote, and we didn't have the money to call to make
sure it was working; so the procedure was to make a collect call to the station
for "Ferguson Jones." As I recall, we didn't accept the charges if the line
was working OK! This became known as the Ferguson Jones call.
John Hall's recollection was that the name was Ferguson Jenkins,
named after a famous baseball player; but as the name was put out for a vote, comments
from others would seem to indicate that perhaps both names were used (see last
two entries below).
Definitively: Ferguson Jones. I think Sherm Strickhouser created the
name. (Paul Payton)
Ferguson Jones was indeed the name of the fictitious character who made the
collect call. Also, for a time, at the annual 'BRU banquet, a Ferguson Jones
Award was given to the station member who made the most outrageous error on air.
The award was always something relating to the error in question. I can
remember two of them, and I'm sure Jack or CB can add to the list if anyone's
really interested. (John Leistritz)
Ferguson Jones was definitely a Strickhouser creation. Previous
e-mails were accurate -- award was given in Jones' name for biggest gaff on
the air (like Gradison saying during warm-up before a basketball game that the
team was "flipping their balls around.") Otherwise, Jones was in the
same genre as Josiah Carberry -- did many things and made many appearances but
never came face-to-face with any living being. (Pete Tannenwald)
Well, here is where the OLD memory really begins to get hazy. I
certainly remember the name "Ferguson Jones," and now that the award is
mentioned I remember its existence as well. And somewhere in the ether I
think I received the coveted prize for throwing the UPI machine down a flight
of stairs in hopes that it might actually get replaced by one that wouldn't
bunch up the paper overnight so we had no news to report every morning.
And a fine way for a PD to act, if you ask me! (Don Berns)
You mean they stopped giving out the Ferguson Jones award? That was
one of the most fun things about WBRU. We had a whole shtick behind him.
He was (we said) a Brown grad who shot up the conning tower on his own navy ship
while aiming at an enemy plane passing by.
We recalled past awards (one of my favorites was the guy who did his whole
show without turning on the "Line Out" switch. No one even called.)
Ferguson Jones was, in fact, the name we used to avoid collect phone call
charges when doing away hockey games. As long as the signal was getting
back to the studio, Ferguson Jones was "unavailable." It was often said
he was in class. Peter [Bedard] and I often thought that it was a good thing
that someone from BRU actually went to class. (Stu Aaronson)
Having made the call many times in my years doing hockey play by play (1967-1970),
my recollection is Ferguson Jones. Many was the unfortunate long distance
operator who had to hear the shocking (if not quite tearful) news from the person
in the studio who answered the phone that Mr. Jones had just passed away...
I am just as certain about the Ferguson Jenkins story, but my source – the
late Peter Bedard, who I witnessed using this name – is sadly no longer
available for interrogation. Is it possible that there was more than one of
these trick names in play? (John Hall)
Having been on the board at the studio during several Bedard-announced
games because they often fell just before or after my show, Reminiscing, I can
vouch for John Hall's assertion that Pete called in as Ferguson Jenkins.
However, I think he might have deliberately done a variation on the usual name
because he knew I was from Boston and a huge Red Sox fan. Perhaps John
witnessed one of the times he called in to me. (Bob Mulholland)