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Bob Feerick and the Washington Capitols


Bob Feerick Crouching

Bob Feerick was a 6'3" guard that played professional basketball between 1946-50. Feerick was in three different leagues within those five seasons: The NBL, BAA, and NBA. He would play one season with the Oshkosh All-Stars in the NBL, three seasons with the Washington Capitols in the BAA, and another season with the Capitols in the NBA.


Although he had a short career, Feerick made the best of his five seasons. He was one of the BAA's best players and was the Stephen Curry of the BAA (for three seasons). Want to learn more about Bob Feerick and the numerous awards and records he has accumulated? Keep on reading!


Since Bob Feerick was the best player in Washington Capitols' history, probably due to the Capitols' very short history (1946-51), this article will also highlight the Washington Capitols' three seasons in the BAA and two seasons in the NBA.

 

Table of Contents:

 

NBL: Oshkosh All-Stars

At the age of 26, Bob Feerick would join Oshkosh All-Stars in the 1945-46 NBL season and immediately make an impact. In his first and only season with the Oshkosh All-Stars, they would go 19-15 (55.9 W/L%), finishing second in the Western Conference.

This was a seven-game improvement from last season (12-18)! This improvement was due to the All-Stars acquisition of Bob Feerick and Bob Carpenter. In the 1945-46 NBL season, Feerick averaged:


9.4 Points

3.9 Field Goals

1.7 Free Throws, 2.1 Free Throw Attempts


As for Bob Carpenter, he averaged:


13.9 Points

5.5 Field Goals

3.0 Free Throws, 4.2 Free Throw Attempts


In addition to Feerick and Carpenter, the All-Stars already had 3x MVP, Leroy Edwards! The three players combined for 34.9 points! The All-Stars averaged 53.4 points, so that means that the 'Big 3' scored 65.4% of the team's points! Unfortunately, out of the three, the only player to NOT make an All-NBL Team was Bob Feerick.

Bob Feerick would have made an All-NBL Team if he played more games. Out of the 34 regular-season games, Feerick would only play 21 of them. Half the players on the All-NBL Second Team had worst stats than Feerick but played more games:

  • Mike Novak: 9.1 Points (34 Games)

  • Jerome Steiner: 9.0 Points (30 Games)

  • Robert Calihan: 8.7 Points (31 Games)

In addition, Bob Feerick would also unluckily lose the Rookie of the Year award to Red Holzman. However, that didn't matter. Bob Feerick's prime was on the horizon. Also, NBL awards aren't recognized by the NBA, so... whatever.

Although the All-Stars had a good regular season, their postseason run was cut short. In the first round against the Sheboygan Redskins, the All-Stars would lose 2-3. In this playoff series, Feerick would average:

8.4 Points

3.2 Field Goals

2.0 Free Throws, 2.2 Free Throw Attempts


A one-point difference might not seem like much, but in an era where teams would end games with 50 points, one point could have completely changed the results of this series.


The blame doesn't just lie on Bob Feerick. Bob Carpenter and Leroy Edwards also played worse. Carpenter only averaged 10.6 points, while Edwards only averaged 8.8 points. The 'Big 3' scored 6.1 fewer points in the playoffs.


By the end of the season, Feerick was 25th in points (198), 21st in field goals (81), and wasn't even Top 25 in free throws.


1946-47: New Beginnings

Bob Feerick's impact in the NBL was minimal, but it was the complete opposite while in the BAA. Feerick would join the Washington Capitols in the 1946-47 BAA season and would go 49-11 (81.7%), finishing first in the Eastern Conference and overall. The Capitols also led the league in OPPG (63.9) and were second in PPG (73.8).


To provide some context, this was also the Washington Capitols first season in the BAA. That's because the BAA was founded in 1946! Sixteen teams were a part of the BAA. Out of those 16, six of those teams still exist:

  • Boston Celtics

  • Fort Wayne Pistons (now Detroit Pistons)

  • Minneapolis Lakers (now Los Angeles Lakers)

  • New York Knickerbockers

  • Philadelphia Warriors (now Golden State Warriors)

  • Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings)

The BAA was the first 'major' professional basketball league. Although the NBL and American Basketball League (ABL) existed, teams played in relatively small stadiums in unknown cities (ex: Oshkosh, Toledo, Youngstown, etc.). On the other hand, the BAA primarily played in larger stadiums in major cities, which helped with sales.

As a result, after the 1948-49 BAA season, the BAA and NBL would merge to create the NBA!


Now back to the Washington Capitols.


The reason for the Capitols success was primarily due to Bob Feerick's performance this season. Feerick was decent with the Oshkosh All-Stars but was FANTASTIC with the Washington Capitols this season. He averaged:

16.8 Points, 1.3 Assists

40.1 FG%, 76.2. FT%

55 Games


Bob Feerick led the Capitols in points, assists, and field goal percentage! He was undoubtedly, the best player on the Capitols. In fact, Feerick was probably the second-best player in the league (behind Joe Fulks). Within the five seasons that the Capitols played in the BAA and NBA, this was their best regular-season record.

As a result of his impressive performance, Feerick was selected to the All-BAA First Team! MVPs were not an award in the BAA, but if they were... Feerick still wouldn't have won MVP since Fulks averaged 23.2 points on 30.5% shooting from the field.

By the end of the regular season, Bob Feerick would lead the league in six different stats:

  • Field Goal Percentage: 40.1 FG%

  • 2 Point Percentage: 40.1 2P%

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage: 40.1 eFG%

  • True Shooting Percentage: 45.3 TS%

  • Win Shares: 18.6 WS

  • Offensive Win Shares: 14.1 OWS

To be fair, the three-point line didn't exist back then, so FG%, 2P%, and eFG% were always going to be the same. In reality, Feerick only led the league in four different stats, which is still very impressive.

Feerick's shooting efficiency doesn't sound that impressive, and in a modern context, it isn't. In the 2020-2021 NBA season, the average FG%, 2P%, TS%, and eFG% are:

  • 46.6 FG%

  • 53.0 2P%

  • 57.2 TS%

  • 53.8 eFG%

None of Feerick's efficiency-related stats come close to the 2020-2021 NBA average. However, in the 1946-47 BAA season, quantity was valued over accuracy. The average FG%, 2P%, TS%, and eFG% back then were:

  • 27.9 FG%, 2P%, eFG%

  • 32.6 TS%

Besides these stats, Feerick was also second in points (926), points per game (16.8), field goals (364), two-point field goals (364), and fourth in free-throw percentage (76.1%).

Bob Feerick's best game this season was on March 19th, 1947, against the Providence Steamrollers. In this game, Feerick put up:


35 Points

1/1 FT, 17 Field Goals

2 Personal Fouls


Unfortunately, I can't find his field-goal attempts, but based on his regular-season field goal percentage (40.1%), I'd assume that Feerick took 42 field attempts this game.


Although Bob Feerick played amazingly this season, it wasn't just Feerick that propelled the Capitols to where they were. While the Oshkosh All-Stars had a Big 3, the Washington Capitols had a Big 4:

  • Bob Feerick: 16.8 Points

  • Fred Scolari: 12.6 Points

  • Bones McKinney: 12.0 Points

  • Johnny Norlander: 10.4 Points

The only other team that four players average more than 10+ points and play 55+ regular-season games were the Providence Steamrollers.


Also, Bones McKinney would make the All-BAA First Team while Fred Scolari would make the All-BAA Second Team!


Although the Washington Capitols had an amazing regular season, they had a disappointing playoff run. In the first round, the Capitols would lose to the Chicago Stags, 2-4.


Nobody in the Big 4 played better in the playoffs:

  • Bob Feerick: 15.0 Points

  • Fred Scolari: 11.8 Points

  • Bones McKinney: 9.7 Points

  • Johnny Norlander: 6.8 Points

The only player that played better in the playoffs was John Mahnken. In the regular season, he averaged 9.3 points. In this series, he averaged 10.3 points.


Bob Feerick played decently from Game 1-5, but in Game 6, the deciding game, Feerick would only score 8 points. If Feerick had scored just six more points, the Capitols would have won that game.


This wasn't the biggest upset since the Chicago Stags were the first seed in the Western Conference.


1947-48: Oof

The 1947-48 BAA season would be about the same for Bob Feerick, but not for the Washington Capitols. The Capitols would end up going 28-20 (58.3 W/L%). The Capitols were tied with the Baltimore Bullets (28-20) and the Chicago Stags (28-20) for the second seed in the Western Conference.


They won 21 fewer games than last season! I would understand performing worst if one of your star players left, but none of them did. The Big 4 was still intact. In addition, it wasn't like anybody did drastically worst. Everybody either stayed consistent or did slightly worst than last season:

  • Bob Feerick: 16.1 Points

  • Fred Scolari: 12.5 Points

  • Bones McKinney: 11.3 Points

  • Johnny Norlander: 9.8 Points

It wasn't that the Capitols were terrible. It's just that the rest of the league was getting better. Specifically in the Western Conference:

  • Chicago Stags - Star player, Max Zaslofsky, averages 21.0 points alongside Stan Miasek with 14.9 points.

  • Baltimore Bullets - SIX players averaged 10+ points, and an additional THREE players averaged 5+ points.

  • St. Louis Bombers - I have no idea. The Bombers' team seems worse than the Capitols, Stags, and Bullets but had the best record (29-19).

As for Bob Feerick, he would still make the All-BAA First Team. He wasn't as good as last season, but he was still one of the best players in the league. He led the Capitols in points (16.1), assists (1.2), field goal percentage (34.0%), and free-throw percentage (78.7%). In addition, Feerick led the entire league in free-throw percentage and win shares (10.5).


Even though Bob Feerick was still amazing, he was no longer the second-best player in the league. In my opinion, he was the fourth-best player:

  • Joe Fulks: 22.1 Points

  • Max Zaslofsky: 21.0 Points

  • Ed Sadowski: 19.4 Points

  • Bob Feerick: 16.1 Points

Bob Feerick's best game was on February 25th, 1948, against the Chicago Stags. In this game, he put up:


27 Points

7/8 FT

10 Field Goals

Feerick's worst game was on February 5th, 1948, against the Philadelphia Warriors. In this game, he put up:

6 Points, 2 Assists

2/16 FG, 2/4 FT

4 Personal Fouls


As for the playoffs, since the Capitols were tied with three other teams, they had to play a tiebreaker game to see who would advance to the playoffs. Their first tiebreaker game was against the Chicago Stags. If they lost this, they would not have another chance. In this game, Feerick would put up:

16 Points

4/4 FT

6 Field Goals


This wasn't a bad statline from Feerick. This is what he usually puts up per game. However, this wasn't enough to beat the Chicago Stags. The Stags had five players put up more than ten points, and they also had the new second-best player in the league, Max Zaslofsky, who put up 24 points.


Usually, I would criticize the best player on the team for not going above and beyond, but Bob Feerick was already 28 in the 1947-48 BAA season. Nowadays, 28 is the prime of your career, but back then, this was around the time a player would retire or when they would decline.

For example, at 28, Joe Fulks averaged 14.2 points and shot 27.8% from the field. This is still an amazing stat-line, but Fulks was averaging 26.0 points and shot 31.3% field just a year before.


1948-49: The Best Playoff Run

Bob Feerick Santa Clara

Although the 1948-49 BAA season wasn't the Washington Capitols best regular-season run, it was the Capitols best post-season run. The Capitols ended the season 38-22 (63.3 W/L%), finishing first in the Eastern Conference.

The Washington Capitols' success this season had a lot to do with luck.


After one season in the Western Conference, the Capitols would be back in the Eastern Conference. This benefitted them A LOT since the competition in the Western Conference was tough. If the Capitols were still in the Western Conference, they would have tied with the Chicago Stags for the third seed.


The top two teams on the Western Conference were also 10x better than the Capitols. The first-seeded Rochester Royals went 45-15 (75.0 W/L%), while the second-seeded Minneapolis Lakers went 44-16 (73.3 W/L%). Thankfully, the Capitols wouldn't have to face either team until - spoiler alert - they made the BAA Finals.


However, not all of the Capitols' success had to do with luck. For the past two seasons, the Capitols had a Big 4. This season, the Capitols had a BIG 5:

  • Bob Feerick: 13.0 Points, 3.2 Assists

  • Bones McKinney: 12.7 Points, 2.0 Assists

  • Kleggie Hermsen: 11.8 Points, 1.7 Assists

  • Jack Nichols: 11.7 Points, 1.6 Assists

  • Fred Scolari: 11.2 Points, 2.1 Assists

Altogether, the Big 5 scored 60.5 points! Out of the 81.8 points that the Capitols scored per game, 74.0% of the points are from the Big 5!


Although it seems like Bob Feerick played worst, he played about the same. He scored 3.1 fewer points than last season, but when you have four other players that are just as talented, you're going to have to share the ball. That's why Feerick had 3.2 assists! This was the most assists he's averaged throughout his career!


This was the first time Bob Feerick would be selected to the All-BAA Second Team and the last time he would be selected to an All-BAA Team. In addition to Feerick, Bones McKinney was also a part of the All-BAA Second Team.


This was also sadly the last season that Feerick would lead the league in a stat (free-throw percentage, 85.9%).

As for the playoffs, it was both dissapointing yet, exceeded expectations. It was disappointing because Bob Feerick would only play one game during the playoffs. He might have gotten injured as he only scored two points and an assist in the only game he played. He didn't have a single field goal attempt.


Without the team's best player, that meant that the rest of the Big 5 (now Big 4) had to play a lot better.


So did they...? Kind of.


In the first round, the Washington Capitols were against the Philadelphia Warriors. The Capitols would easily beat the Warriors, 2-0. In-Game 1 of the series, the Capitols beat the Warriors by 22 points!

Every player in the Big 4 played amazingly in this game. The only player that didn't was Fred Scolari, but that's because he didn't play this series!

  • Bones McKinney: 17.0 Points, 1.0 Assist

  • Kleggie Hermsen: 15.0 Points, 1.5 Assists

  • Jack Nichols: 13.5 Points, 3.0 Assists

  • Johnny Norlander: 11.5 Points, 0.5 Assists

Even Dick Schultz, who wasn't a part of the Big 4/5, played well this game, averaging 11.5 points and 2.5 assists.


In-Game 1 of this series, Kleggie Hermsen scored 20 points and shot 41.2% from the field! In addition, five other players on the team scored 10+ points:

  • Bones McKinney: 15 Points

  • Johnny Norlander: 14 Points

  • Jack Nichols: 11 Points

  • Dick Schulz: 10 Points

  • Dick O' Keefe: 10 Points

The second round was against the New York Knicks. This series was a bit tougher, but the Capitols would still beat the Knicks, 2-1.


Johnny Norlander and Fred Scolari were disappointing in this series. Both averaged approximately 6.4 points. Thankfully, Sonny Hertzberg, who averaged 7.4 points in the regular season, would go off and average 14.7 points and shot 90.0% from the free-throw line!


Besides that, Bones McKinney and Jack Nichols continued to play amazingly. McKinney averaged 16.0 points, while Nichols averaged 15.3 points.


In-Game 2 of the series, Jack Nichols and Bones McKinney scored more than 20 points but would still lose 84-86 to the Knicks as Carl Braun would score an impressive 30 POINTS! However, in Game 3, Hertzberg would be the Capitols saving grace. In Game 3, Hertzberg put up 24 points! This is the most points Hertzberg has scored throughout his career!


If Hertzberg only scored 7.4 points like in the regular season, the Washington Capitols' playoff run would have stopped here.

After two relatively easy series, the Washington Capitols would make the BAA Finals for the first, and unfortunately, last time. In the Finals, they were against the Minneapolis Lakers. As said earlier, Western teams were 10x better than Eastern teams. I think you know where I'm heading with this.

The Washington Capitols would lose to the Minneapolis Lakers, 2-4.


Although they lost, it's surprising how the Capitols were able to bring the Lakers to six games. The Minneapolis Lakers swept both the Chicago Stags and Rochester Royals, and the Stags and Royals were better than the Capitols!


The only player that played well in this series was Jack Nichols. He averaged:


14.2 Points

62.5 FT%

35 Field Goals


Nichols was the MVP for the Washington Capitols' 1948-49 playoff run. Throughout the playoffs, Nichols ended up averaging:


14.4 Points, 2.5 Assists

40.8 FG%, 66.7 FT%

11 Games


I don't blame the Capitols for losing this series. The Lakers had the GOAT of early professional basketball, George Mikan. In the finals, Mikan averaged 27.5 points and shot 83.8% from the free-throw line. For the entirety of the playoffs, Mikan averaged:


30.3 Points, 2.1 Assists

45.4 FG%, 80.2 FT%

10 Games


These are godly numbers. Rebounds weren't recorded this season, but based on later rebounding performances by Mikan, I'm pretty sure he was grabbing 15+ rebounds per game.

I also don't blame the Capitols for losing because they didn't have their star player, Bob Feerick. They didn't have their best player and were still able to make it to the Finals. If Feerick were playing, even if Mikan played as well as he did, the Capitols would have had a pretty good chance of winning the Finals.


1949-50: Bob Feerick Retires

As the title says, after the 1949-50 NBA season, Bob Feerick retired. In his last season of playing professional basketball, Feerick averaged:


8.1 Points, 2.1 Assists

34.4 FG%, 79.9 FT%

60 Games

This is the worst stat-line of Bob Feerick's career. Even his season with the Oshkosh All-Stars was better. However, Feerick was already 30 years old, and since Red Auerbach, the Washington Capitols former head coach, left, Feerick was both the coach and a player for the Capitols.

Under Bob Feerick's coaching, the Washington Capitols would go 32-36 (47.1 W/L%), and even though they had a negative record, they still finished as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Like in the BAA, there is a Conference with superior teams. In this case, it was the Central Conference:

  • Minneapolis Lakers: 51-17

  • Rochester Royals: 51-17

  • Fort Wayne Pistons: 40-28

  • Chicago Stags: 40-28

If the Washington Capitols were in the Central Conference, they would not have made the playoffs this season.

Although the Capitols brought in new talent like former NBL MVP Don Otten and former Capitols' players like Jack Nichols and Fred Scolari improved, the league continued to get better. Many other Capitols players were nearing the end of their prime.


In addition to Bob Feerick, Bones McKinney and Johnny Norlander played a lot worse. McKinney averaged 9.3 points and shot 29.6% from the field, while Norlander averaged 6.3 points and shot 33.8% from the field.

As for the playoffs, the Washington Capitols would go against the New York Knicks in the first round. Unlike last season, when the Capitols beat the Knicks, 2-1, the Knicks would beat the Capitols, 2-0.


Don Otten and Fred Scolari would play fantastically. Don Otten averaged:


20.5 Points, 3.0 Assists

40.0 FG%, 80.0 FT%

3.5 Personal Fouls


Fred Scolari averaged:


18.5 Points, 1.5 Assists

48.1 FG%, 100.0 FT%

3.0 Personal Fouls

Even though these two played well, Jack Nichols, their second-best player, left the Capitols near the end of the season to join the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.

Unfortunately, Bob Feerick's last playoff appearance wasn't the best. Feerick averaged:

4.5 Points, 2.5 Assists

21.4 FG%, 75.0 FT%


Bob Feerick went from being one of the best players and shooters to one of the worst. In-Game 2 of the series, Feerick would have more personal fouls (4) than points (2).

And just like that. The Washington Capitols were out of the playoffs, and Bob Feerick officially retired.


Bob Feerick would continue coaching, ending up as the Santa Clara Broncos head coach from 1950-62.


From 1950-62, the Broncos would make it to the Elite Eight twice and the Sweet Sixteen once. Their overall record was 186-20 (60.8 W/L%), and the conference record was 77-43 (64.2 W/L%). In addition, they were the Conference regular-season Champions in 1952-53, 1953-43, and 1959-60. As a result of these accolades, Bob Feerick would win 3x Conference Coach of the Year awards.


As for the Washington Capitols, in the following NBA season (1950-51), they would play 35 regular-season games before disbanding. Within those 35 regular-season games, the Capitols went 10-25 (28.6 W/L%) and were coached by another former Capitols player, Bones McKinney.





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