New York Yankees legendary pitcher Whitey Ford is amazing for some odd facts almost as much as for his accomplishments on the mound.
As great as Ford was, posting a 236-106 record with a 2.75 lifetime ERA and nearly 2,000 strikeouts in his 18-year career in Pinstripes, there was a time where he was “just” the Yanks No. 4 starter. It was understandable, as Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat.were ahead of Ford after he returned from serving in the Korean War.
Ford, who boasted impeccable control, also never tossed a no-hitter though he once tossed consecutive one-hitters. The Queens product also won his first nine decisions in the bigs and captured AL Rookie of the Year honors.
Whitey also won “just” one Cy Young award, but that’s because it was still being established in his early years on the hill. “The Chairman of the Board”, as he was called, didn’t just rack up wins over chumps, either, as manager Casey Stengel often saved him to pitch against the AL’s top teams.
Ford was so good in part because he just fit in with his teammates, like pals Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin. Whitey was more quiet and crafty than other pitchers, racking up a remarkable 25-4 record in 1961, the same year as Mantle and Roger Maris slugged it out for the then single-season home run record.
Ford wasn’t perfect, admitting to gouging the ball with his wedding ring for a time, but his pitching skill far overwhelmed any trickery. Whitey was and is a very likeable person, as well, despite being a 10-time All Star and winner of six world championships on sports’ most famous team
Thanks to his brother Tom Ford, a video store owner in Hampton Bays, L.I. I once had the opportunity to interview Whitey. It was a pleasure, the opposite of what facing him in the batter’s box must have been.