E.A. Sports Today

Voice of reason

Billy Ferguson was a good local athlete, but he made his mark as a ‘common sense’ game official

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a weeklong series highlighting the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017

By Jay Pace
For East Alabama Sports Today

Standing out has never been the issue for Billy Ferguson. Whether it was the gridiron, the hardwood or the baseball diamond, Billy Ferguson was always there.

He’ll be there Saturday night, too, when he joins five other luminaries enshrined in the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Oxford Civic Center.

The five other inductees — Mike Deerman, Stanley Bell, Chip Howell, Jerry Ray and Ricky Weems — will be enshrined largely for their playing and coaching success. Ferguson, while a fine athlete in his own right, will be enshrined for a long career as a game official.


“I had played (sports) forever and had came back to (Anniston) from Atlanta after nine years and Glen Hawkins told me I was going to officiate,” Ferguson said.

Hawkins was the director of officials for the Alabama High School Athletic Association. He was enshrined in the County Sports Hall in the inaugural Class of 2005.

Ferguson first made his mark athletically in 1947 when he lifted his Mechanicsville Junior High School basketball team to a Calhoun County Junior High tournament title. Interestingly, L.C. Williams, the grandfather of fellow 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Mike Deerman, was the head coach of that Mechanicsville team.

“I’ve known Mike for a very long time,” says Ferguson. “Mike is a good friend and I’m proud to be going in (the Hall of Fame) with him.”

Ferguson spent much of his youth playing sports — he played basketball at Southern Union in 1951 and Snead State in 1952 — but spent the bulk of his life officiating them. For 37 years he worked as an official for the AHSAA before health issues forced him to retire. During the span of a career that lasted nearly four decades, he was a fixture on the Calhoun County prep sports scene where he officiated football, baseball and basketball.

Ferguson spent 34 of those 37 seasons working playoff games for the AHSAA. He called four Class 6A state championship games in football and 12 state championship basketball games. Six of those 12 were in Class 6A. In 1981, he was part of the officiating crew for the AHSAA all-star basketball game.

Ferguson also spent 11 years officiating college baseball and women’s basketball. After 32 years on the job, the AHSAA presented Ferguson with the Distinguished Service Award. It is one of the highest honors an official can receive.

“Billy is the best common sense official I’ve ever called with,” said Keith Robertson, a longtime official now a district director. “A lot of officials will look for rules to enforce. Billy always looked to how it affected the play.

“If he had holding on a play and the hold was away from where the ball was going and it had no affect on the play, he wasn’t going to call it. Why ruin a good play with holding when it didn’t affect the play?”

And he was always there for his crew. There was this one time when Ferguson and Robertson were calling a game with Alexandria.

“The head coach (2010 County Hall of Famer Larry Ginn) called time,” Robertson said. “He was upset and was wanting to talk to me about a flag I had thrown against his team. Billy told him ‘Coach, I don’t talk to your assistants and you aren’t talking to mine either.'”

Billy Ferguson always leaves his mark.

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