Posted: 1:59 pm Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Baseball: Jupiter coach Doug Ferguson retires 

By Matt Porter

After 21 years at the school, Jupiter baseball coach Doug Ferguson retired.

In his final season, Ferguson, 49, led the Warriors (24-6) to the District 9-6A title and the regional semifinals, where they fell to Park Vista. He decided to retire last June, but said leaving then would have been a distraction to the team. 

He’s glad he stuck around. 

“The way things were falling into place, I thought we were going to win state,” Ferguson said. “We went out on a really positive note.” 

Jupiter coach Doug Ferguson watches his players at a practice in 2008. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Jupiter coach Doug Ferguson watches his players at a practice in 2008. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Jupiter Athletic Director Mike Deleonardo said the position is open and a search for a replacement would begin soon. 

Ferguson, a former pitcher, played at North Shore High with Palm Beach Central coach Scott Benedict before moving to Palm Beach Junior College. He graduated from Florida Atlantic before coaching John I. Leonard’s junior varsity team and spent a year as an assistant at Forest Hill under former Palm Beach State coach and pro scout Alex Morales before landing at Jupiter in 1991.

He’s had plenty of success — a career record of 373-205 and three district titles — and some heartbreak in his career.

Ferguson, then 41, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in Jan. 2002. After 24 weeks of chemotherapy, he received a clean bill of health before the 2003 season. “I thought the worst,” he told The Post in 2003. “Then I just said to myself, ‘I can’t let this beat me.'”

In the summer of 2003, one of Ferguson’s players, senior starting pitcher Chris Danek, died after slipping and striking his head on a hotel bathtub while attending a baseball camp in Orlando. A memorial bearing Danek’s No. 27 was painted on the Warriors’ dugout. 

While Ferguson said he will continue to teach physical education at Jupiter and coach the Jupiter Pacers, a summer college wood bat team, his own sons are first on his agenda.

Doug Jr. is a sinkerball-throwing reliever with the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds, a Class-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and Garrick is a redshirt freshman outfielder at North Florida. 

“I want to be able to take off and see them play,” Ferguson said. “You can’t do that when you have the program to worry about. I’m going to focus on things I’ve had on the back burner. Like working on my own backyard rather than the ballyard.” 

Even if it is just cutting the grass on the field, Ferguson said he’d like to remain a part of the team.

“I wish I could just show up and coach, but it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “I know I’m going to miss it when the time rolls around.”