Gray Studios cabinet of Charlie Ferguson, a pitching phenom who won 99 games in his first four seasons with the Phillies, before dying of typhoid fever at just 25 years of age. Corresponding with card #157-1 in the N172 issue, this Old Judge proof pictures Ferguson posed with his bat against a stark backdrop, the image quality strong with little fading. Ferguson's last name has been written on the mount, which exhibits some soiling and minor staining, with a small crease at the upper right corner. The number "1662" has been written along the top edge of the reverse in pencil, the reverse exhibiting similar soiling to the front.
Ferguson played just four years of major league ball, a two-way player with the Philadelphia Quakers who, when not pitching, was often a position player. He won 20 games or more in each of those seasons, with a 2.67 ERA, while batting .288 during the same stretch. By 1887, Ferguson played in 38 games as a position player while pitching in 37, his fewest games on the mound in four years, a sign he was beginning to transition to the field, full time. In the final 17 days of the 1887 season, Ferguson played in all 17, batting .361 while winning 7 games with a 1.75 ERA. The Ohtani of his time, Ferguson nearly won the pennant for the Quakers, carrying the entire team on his back.
During spring training of 1888, Ferguson contracted typhoid fever, likely as a result of ingesting contaminated food or water. Though he fought the illness for a month, he passed away in April, just 25 years old. At that point, he was the highest-profile major leaguer to have passed away while still an active player. He was, at the time of his death, already considered one of the best to ever play, with no less a judge of talent than Wilbert Robinson listing Ferguson alongside Cobb, Keeler, Ruth and Wagner as the best ever.
A strong proof picturing a tragic figure in 19th Century baseball.