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Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford

Personal Info
Birth October 21, 1928
Birthplace New York City, New York
Death October 8, 2020 (aged 91)
Deathplace Lake Success, New York
Professional Career
Debut July 1, 1950, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park
Team(s) New York Yankees (1950, 19531967)
Career Highlights
  • Cy Young Award: 1961
  • World Series MVP: 1961
  • All Star: 1954–56, 1958–61, 1964
  • Led league in ERA: 1956 (2.47) & 1958 (2.01)
  • Led league in Wins: 1955 (18), 1961 (25), & 1963 (24)
  • Led league in WHIP: 1958 (1.076)
  • Led league in Innings: 1961 (283) and 1963 (269 ⅓)
  • Led league in Games Started: 1961 (39) and 1963 (37)
  • Led league in Complete Games: 1955 (18)
  • Led league in Shutouts: 1958 (7) and 1960 (4)
  • Led league in Batters Faced: 1961 (1,159)
  • New York Yankees Career Leader in Wins (236), Innings (3,170 ⅓), Strikeouts (1,956), Games Started (438) and Shutouts (45)

Edward Charles "Whitey" Ford (October 21, 1928 – October 8, 2020), nicknamed "The Chairman of the Board" was an American Major League Baseball pitcher.

A native of Queens, New York City, Ford was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1947. He was given the nickname "Whitey" while in the minor leagues for his blond, almost white, hair.

Ford began his Major League Baseball career on July 1, 1950, with the Yankees. He won his first 9 decisions, and finished 9-1. He was voted The Sporting News Rookie of the Year (Walt Dropo was voted the BBWAA Rookie of the Year). In 1951 and 1952 he served in the Army during the Korean War. He rejoined the Yankees for the 1953 season, and the Yankee "Big Three" pitching staff became a "Big Four," as Ford joined Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat.

Eventually Ford went from the No. 4 pitcher on a great staff to the universally acclaimed No. 1 pitcher of the Yankees, becoming known as the "Chairman of the Board" (nickname assigned by catcher Elston Howard) for his ability to remain calm and in command during high-pressure situations. He was also known as "Slick" for his craftiness on the mound, necessary because he did not have an overwhelming fastball, but being able to throw several other pitches very well gave him pinpoint control.

In 1955, he led the American League in complete games and games won; in 1956 in earned run average and winning percentage; in 1958, in earned run average; and in both 1961 and 1963, in games won and winning percentage. In 1961 he broke Babe Ruth's World Series record of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings (the record would eventually reach 33 2/3), and won the World Series MVP as well as the Cy Young Award. He played his entire 16-year career as a Yankee, retiring in 1967, when a circulatory problem effectively ended his career. Ford's final game pitched occurred on May 21, 1967. Ford was 40 years old at the time.

Ford won 236 games (career 236-106), still a Yankee career record. Red Ruffing, the previous Yankee record-holder, still leads all Yankee right-handed pitchers, with 231 of his 273 career wins coming with the Yankees. Roger Clemens notched his 300th career victory as a Yankee, but pitched for the Yankees only five seasons with 77 wins.

Among pitchers with at least 300 career decisions, Ford ranks first with a winning percentage of .690. Among those with at least 200 decisions, Ford also ranks first in winning prcentage, having moved ahead of Pedro Martinez. His won-loss percentage of .690 is not just due to being on a fine team. The Yankees were 1,486-1,027 during his 16 years. Without his 236-106, they had 1,250 wins and 921 losses, for a won-loss of .576. Ford was thus .114 higher than his team's record net of his record. On top of that, Casey Stengel, Yankees manager for all of Ford's career through 1960, often "saved" his ace left-hander for more formidable opponents such as the Tigers, Indians and White Sox. When he became manager in 1961, Ralph Houk promised Ford he would pitch every fourth day, regardless of opponent. A career-best 25-4 record ensued, but Ford's season was overshadowed by the scintillating home-run battle between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

Among starting pitchers whose careers began after the advent of the Live Ball Era in 1920, Whitey's 2.75 earned-run average ranks first Hoyt Wilhelm, mainly a reliever during his career, leads all post-1920 pitchers in ERA at 2.52.

After his career ended, Ford admitted to occasionally cheating by doctoring baseballs. Of particular note among the various methods he used was the "mudball". Yankee groundskeepers (the "mudball" could only be used at home in Yankee Stadium) would wet down an area near the catcher's box where Yankee catcher Elston Howard, pretending to lose balance on a pitch while in his crouch and landing on his right hand (with the ball in it), would coat one side of the ball with mud. Ford would sometimes use the diamond in his wedding ring to gouge the ball, but he was eventually caught by an umpire and warned to stop. Howard then sharpened a buckle on his shinguard and used it to scuff the ball.

Ford wore number 19 in his rookie season. Following his return from the army in 1953, he wore number 16 for the remainder of his career. He was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame by athe BBWAA in his 2nd year of eligibility in 1974 along with his longtime pal and Yankee teammate Mickey Mantle. At that time, the Yankees retired his number 16. On August 2, 1987, the Yankees dedicated plaques for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium for Ford and another left-handed pitcher who reached the Hall of Fame, Lefty Gomez. Ford's plaque calls him "One of the greatest pitchers ever to step on a mound."

In 1999, Ford ranked number 52 on The Sporting News list of Baseball's Greatest Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

In a 1997 episode of The Simpsons, "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson", an animated Ford was knocked unconscious by a barrage of pretzels at a baseball game after a controversial prize giveaway angered fans. Homer later suggested that Marge call her pretzels "Whitey Whackers."

In 2001, Ford was portrayed by Anthony Michael Hall in the HBO movie, "61*," a Billy Crystal film centered around Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle's 1961 quest to break Babe Ruth's single-season home-run record.


In the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Ford surpassed Babe Ruth's streak of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play (eventually extending to 33 2/3 innings ending in 1962). During the regular season, teammate Roger Maris had broken Ruth's single-season home run-record.

Ford had a record ten World Series victories, but lost eight games (including his last four decisions).

In 1994, a road in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada) was named Ford Road in Ford's honour. This was in the north-central area of Mississauga known informally as "the baseball zone", as several streets in the area are named for hall-of-fame baseball players. [1]

In 2003, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.

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Preceded by:
Vern Law
Cy Young Award
Succeeded by:
Don Drysdale
Preceded by:
Bobby Richardson
World Series MVP
Succeeded by:
Ralph Terry
Preceded by:
Bill Mazeroski
Babe Ruth Award
Succeeded by:
Ralph Terry