New York Yankees Hall of Famer Edward “Whitey” Ford dies, according to ABC News on Oct. 10, 2020. He was 91. Catcher Elston Howard gave the left-handed pitcher his moniker — the Chairman of the Board — for his calm demeanor and the leading role on the pitching team.
When up against Ford, batters never knew what type of pitch they were going to encounter. The Chairman of the Board used a variety of methods to undermine his opponents. He was not considered an overpowering pitcher but relied on his guile and guts, explains ABC News:
He’d throw overhand sometimes, three-quarters other times, mixing curves and sliders in with his fastball and changeup.
During the 1961 World Series Game 1, he struck out Cincinnati Reds Don Blasingame — the third pitch caused Blasingame to lose control of his bat.
Whitey Ford’s Yankees History
Twenty-one year old Ford signed on with the Yankees straight out of high school in 1947. The salary offer of $7,000 helped him decide to play for the Yankees as they outbid the New York Giants and Boston Red Socks.
The left-hander donned jersey No. 19 during the 1950 season. Thereafter he was No. 16, which was retired by the Yankees in 1974.
He was not a pitcher until “he failed to get a ball out of the infield while batting during a tryout at Yankee Stadium,” according to Don Burke for the New York Post. Burke refers to Ford as:
A street-smart New Yorker who had the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the 20th century and helped the Yankees become baseball’s perennial champions in the 1950s and ’60s.
The Hall of Famer proved his mettle. The scout who signed him made the right choice as his overall stats verify.
During his 16-year career with the Yankees, he pitched 3,170 innings, struck out 1,956 batters, with an ERA of 2.75. Ford remains the record holder of the highest winning percentage — .690.
Ford made his debut on July 1, 1950, winning nine games. He enlisted to serve in the Korean War midseason.
During his service as a private at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, he played and pitched 20 games, according to FOX Sports. In reference to his time in the army, he often sarcastically quipped that it was tough. “Would you believe it, they actually wanted me to pitch three times a week.”
He returned to the Yankees ball team in May 1953. He was 38 when he played his final game on May 21, 1967, after which he retired. Ford’s midseason retirement came after surgeries failed to improve a circulation problem in his pitching arm.
Ford joined the elite in baseball history when he was inducted into The National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
A plaque erected by the New York Yankees on Aug. 2, 1987, in Monument Park at the Yankee Stadium lists his accomplishments:
- Led Yankees to 11 pennants.
- Led Yankees to six World Championships.
- Leads all Yankee pitchers in games, innings, wins, and shutouts.
- Cy Young Award winner in 1961.
- Holds many World Series records including 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
Ford is survived by his wife, Joan, and two children; Edward and Sally Ann. He was preceded in death by his youngest son, Thomas, in 1999.
ABC News notes Ford’s death is this year’s latest of several baseball greats: Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, and Bob Gibson.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
New York Post: Whitey Ford, Yankees Hall of Famer, dead at 91; Don Burke
ABC News 7 NY: Whitey Ford, New York Yankees legend and Hall of Famer, dies at 91
Sports Reference: Whitey Ford
FOX Sports: MLB’s men in uniform
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Inset Image by Greenreaper Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License