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Earnest "Ferrell" Bowman

Born: Sun., Jul. 28, 1935
Died: Sun., Aug. 4, 2019


6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Thu., Aug. 08, 2019
Location: Snyder's Memorial Gardens, Inc.

Funeral Service

8:00 PM Thu., Aug. 08, 2019
Location: Snyder's Memorial Gardens, funeral home

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Earnest Ferrell Bowman – Johnson City, TN

Earnest Ferrell Bowman, 84 went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on Sunday night, August 4, 2019, at his home. Earnest was born on July 28, 1935, in Johnson City, TN, to the late John Frank Bowman and Dorothy Randolph Bowman.

A native of Johnson City, TN, Earnest lived in the Tri-Cities area for most of his life. In 1954 he graduated from Science Hill High School.  He then attended ETSU where he was an athlete.  He went on to play baseball for 14 years. Earnest Ferrell Bowman played baseball for the San Francisco Giants from 1961 to 1963.  He played in the 1962 World Series.

Mr. Earnest Ferrell Bowman was of the Baptist faith. His special hobbies were playing golf and he enjoyed helping children.

Ferrell was an extremely nice man who helped Science Hill to state tournaments in baseball and basketball before playing basketball at ETSU and shortstop for the San Francisco Giants. He had all three assists in one inning of one of San Fran's victories against the Yankees in the 1962 World Series, which the Yankees finally clinched in seven games when Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson to end it with the tying run at third and Willie Mays' winning run at second. McCovey's line-out -- "I can still hear the sound of the bat," Ferrell would say -- and Ralph Stout waving off Bowman's buzzer-beater in the 1954 state tournament in Vanderbilt's sparkling new gym were his low points in athletics. He said as recently as last month that the ball was out of his hands before the buzzer. The loss was Science Hill's first of the season and ended Bowman's basketball career at Science Hill. Ferrell's brother Billy Joe, a wonderful man and accomplished athlete in his own right, pitched for Science Hill in its 1947 state championship-clinching victory and won two games and homered while helping the Tennessee Volunteers finish runner-up in the 1951 College World Series. He pitched a decade in the minors, ending up in Houston, where he coached for the Astros parts of three decades. Ferrell often credited having Billy Joe to season him as an advantage that helped him reach the top.  Ferrell enjoyed being around ETSU basketball great Skeeter Swift. Skeeter, a bit of a braggart at times (wink), would shake his head when hearing how Ferrell could dunk routinely while Skeeter couldn't despite being some six inches taller. Skeeter had a sort of reverence for guys like Ferrell and Langston legend Billy Gene Williams, who attended many of the luncheons in recent years. Ferrell was a freak athletically to hear folks from his era tell it. Langston greats talked about his leaping ability. Some say Ferrell and Billy Gene might've been the best two athletes Johnson City produced in the 1950s, a decade that produced Bo Austin (1957 Sun Bowl MVP) and Bob Taylor (Vanderbilt receiver).  Ferrell's MLB career was fleeting. He said his lifestyle choices probably played a role in it. Perhaps he peed in Jsa Jsa Gabor's pool. Ferrell would tell you how Tom Seaver mentioned him in his book, noting that Bowman visited him at the mound and essentially told him to start throwing more fastballs and quit nibbling because the beer was starting to get warm.                                Ferrell worked for the Parks & Rec in the '70s.  Ferrell was happy watching Madison Bumgarner pitch, nearly ecstatic sometimes discussing what a ballplayer Buster Posey was and highly upset about the wide strike zone he felt Roy "Doc" Halladay got in the postseason one year. He disliked the Dodgers until the end and wasn't even sorry he sprayed champagne on Richard Nixon after the Giants beat the Dodgers in the three-game playoff in 1962 ("Nope. I was excited -- and he was wearing blue anyway," Ferrell said.) He was proud to be a part of the Parks & Rec Wall of Fame. Ferrell wasn't a vain man, although there were times when he'd remind you that he was an elite athlete. He left the University of Tennessee abruptly and headed back to Johnson City to attend ETSU when General Robert Neyland told him he'd be concentrating on football, namely returning punts, more than he would baseball. Oddly enough, he played only two baseball games at ETSU. Basketball coach Madison Brooks stopped that career in its tracks. Ferrell would say, baseball coach Jim Mooney didn't seem all that disappointed. "Jim Mooney told me I'd make a good hitter, but I couldn't catch a cold," Bowman would say with a chuckle before noting his pro career as a light-hitting defensive specialist on the infield.  Ferrell fought cancer boldly for a long stretch, and there's no doubt in my mind he would've been gone years ago if not for the love he had for his wife, Mag. He also often thanked Major League Baseball's BATS program for the financial assistance to keep him alive (sad that's where we're at, but it is) and the help and encouragement from folks like Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry and Joe Morgan. Gaylord Perry said he used to call Ferrell a barefoot ridge-runner from East Tennessee. Ferrell laughed, noting Gaylord was from rural North Carolina.   When asked, Ferrell invariably answered that Willie Mays was the best all-around baseball player ever and that Bob Gibson was absolutely the toughest pitcher to face in his era. "And we always had a starter whose back or something was bothering 'em when someone like Gibson or Drysdale was pitching, and I'd be inserted in the lineup," Ferrell said. He made the mistake of putting down a bunt on Gibson only once. The ensuing chin music left him wanting to swing away.  Joe McClain, a fellow Science Hill alumni who pitched more than 200 innings for the Washington Senators in '62, shared many thoughts with Ferrell on Jonesborough's Jim Constable, who also made the majors in their era. Ferrell always called Constable "Sheriff”.  He smiled many times recalling some of their adventures when they played in the Pacific Coast League. McClain chuckled about winning the state in the javelin the same season that Sidney Smallwood taught him what a javelin was.  McClain also talked about how Ferrell could just about single-handedly win a track meet. Ferrell was state champion in the long jump. He dunked in a pregame at Cincinnati one season at 5’-10” (maybe).   Ferrell grew up a few doors down from Langston.  He'd sneak in the gym to play there occasionally and spoke to the school as the guest of Paul Christman and Smallwood the year after playing in the World Series.  McClain and Ferrell were pleased to meet Daniel Norris after his rookie season with the Toronto Blue Jays. He loved when Ella Grace, who was three at the time, sang "You Are My Sunshine" to him. Ferrell was so appreciative of how ETSU president Brian Noland treated him at Skeeter's funeral in Brooks Gym. He talked about it again last month. Very humble, even before his humbling ailments, Ferrell would roll his eyes and smile when Skeeter would get worked up. There's a classic tale involving them that might never see the light of day, not that they'd mind. It was hilarious to see Skeeter's wild-eyed facial reaction when Ferrell initially denied Skeeter's classic tale involving them in the late '60s, only to wink after a pause and say that Skeeter had one minor irrelevant detail incorrect.

 Those left to cherish his memory are his wife 47 years Magdalene Norris Bowman. Surviving Daughter: Lisa Novalsky. Surviving Sons: John Ferrell Bowman. Surviving Sisters: Helen Arwood and husband J.F. Arwood. Surviving Brothers: Billy Joe Bowman, Charlie Bowman and wife Becky and, Kenneth Wayne Bowman. Four Grandchildren Emily, Britany, Thomas and Rachel.  Also several Nieces and Nephews.

The family will be receiving friends and family on Thursday, August 8, 2019, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Memorial Service will be at 8:00 PM at Snyder's Memorial Gardens located at 5913 Kingsport Highway Gray, TN 37615. Officiating Pastor Travis Tyler. Pallbearers: Ben Valley, Dr. Howard Holmes, Richard Pectol, Jack Tyler, Thomas Hall, Roger Hall, Shane Pearson and, Joel Bowman.

The Grave Side service will be on Friday, August 9, 2019, at 11:00 AM at Snyders Memorial Gardens.

Condolences and Contributes to help with the expenses can be sent to Earnest Ferrell Bowman’s family at the funeral home's website, www.snydersmemorialgardens.com

Snyder's Memorial Gardens Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Mr. Earnest Ferrell Bowman.

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Jeanette Knight
   Posted Mon August 05, 2019
So sorry to hear of your loss. I know he was loved by many.

Dave Hogan
   Posted Tue August 06, 2019
“Squeaky” was Ferrell’s baseball nickname. (Given to him by Willie Mays, I believe.) He was one of my all time favorite people. I loved the man.

Dave Hogan
Lake Junaluska, NC

   Posted Tue August 06, 2019
Deepest sympathy to Maggie, children and grandchildren; all other family members.

Sharon Quillen
   Posted Tue August 06, 2019
My dad was Rudy Bleidl and was a big fan of Ernie, who he considered to be one of the Greats. He got to know him during his time working at Ingles in Boones Creek. They shared stories about baseball which my dad then shared with my son Landon. They understood that kids that learn to love baseball never lose that passion. It is timeless. I am thankful for the moments they shared together. Praying for peace and healing for your family.

Karen Thompson Roberts
   Posted Wed August 07, 2019
So sorry for your loss. My heart weeps for the family, especially Magdalene. Prayers for you all. 53

Craig Sheets
   Posted Wed August 07, 2019
I will really miss Ernie and if dad were still around he would too. I always thought a lot of him and appreciate everything about baseball he taught me. I will never forget going to San Francisco with him to see the Giants play and Ernie and dad watching me hit balls at the batting cage. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Ron Hartzog
   Posted Fri August 09, 2019
I knew Ferrell when I used to visit Lakeshore apts back when I was a teenager. He was always full of life and had time to spend time with us and play games. I have fun memories of that time with him and Maggie.
I would like to express my deepest condolences to Maggie & Lisa and the rest of his family.

Ron Hartzog

   Posted Fri August 09, 2019
Ferrell was a man's man! The kind that would spit before shooting a charging bear with his life in the balance then wipe the bear blood off his face. Yet he was a humble man that gave love and encouragement to those he met giving them confidence that we all have a gift from GOD. Not many are like Ferrell so many will miss that experience to meet one of GOD'S creation's. Other's of us are very thankful to for him to have been part of out lives! Love,Thought's and Prayer's for all of Ferrell's family.

Cindy Southern
   Posted Fri August 30, 2019
So glad I got to spend time talking to and visiting with Ferrell and Maggie the last few years..what a great man.. I miss him ... Maggie and family..love you bunches..

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