MISENHEIMER, N.C - On Sept. 11, Atlanta Hawks broadcaster Bob Rathbun visited Pfeiffer University to capture the thoughts and baseball memories of legendary Pfeifer coach Joe Ferebee for a videotaped oral history. Coach Ferebee, affectionately known as “the winningest coach in North Carolina baseball,” led Pfeiffer’s baseball program from 1958-1986. A member of eight halls of fame for his contributions to youth baseball in the state, Ferebee spent 13 years as a professional baseball scout.
Ferebee, who is 94, shared lifetime of memories with his longtime friend Bob Rathbun, who grew up in Salisbury, N.C., during the 1950s and ‘60s when Ferebee coached for Salisbury High School and the American Legion baseball system in Rowan County. During the interview, the two reminisced about the ways Rathbun learned about the game of baseball from Ferebee as well as Rathbun’s lifelong ambition to become a professional sports broadcaster. Rathbun began his career in 1973 as sports director for WSTP Radio in Salisbury, later becoming the Atlanta Braves play-by-play announcer (1997-2006). Currently, he partners with Dominique Wilkins for television broadcasts of Hawks basketball and calls play-by-play for Southeast Conference (SEC) football games on FSN South and Atlantic Coast Conference football games for Raycom Sports.
“Most people in athletics can only dream about a career like Coach Ferebee’s,” said Bob Reasso ’73, Pfeiffer’s athletic director and vice president for athletics. “We’re very grateful that a broadcasting pro the caliber of Bob Rathbun is willing and able to lend his expertise to record Coach’s oral history, which will be a major component of the Pfeiffer Hall of Fame and university archive.”
Also on hand for the event were former Falcons baseball standouts Billy Wynne ‘66 and Art Small ‘75. After graduating from Pfeiffer, Wynne pitched in the major leagues for the New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and California Angels. Small turned down major league offers in favor of a career with FBI. While on campus, Small spoke to undergraduates from Professor Patrick Malloy’s financial fraud investigations accounting class about career opportunities with the FBI.
Over the course of his career, Ferebee amassed 677 career wins at Pfeiffer and an additional 694 victories with various American Legion teams, and he coached 42 Pfeiffer baseball players to major league contracts. Pfeiffer has named its baseball complex for Coach Ferebee and last spring retired Ferebee’s jersey and number 23.
In total, Ferebee led the Falcons to ten conference championships, five NAIA District crowns and guided his squad to a number two ranking in the nation in 1968. He has been elected to eight halls of fame, including the being a member of the Inaugural Class of the Pfeiffer Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. The Mocksville, N.C., native began his coaching career in 1947 at Salisbury High School after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In 1955, he coached Salisbury to the state 3A championship and also led the Salisbury-Rowan American Legion team to a third place finish in the national playoffs the same year.