3. Whitey Ford, Game 1, 1961 World Series
Whitey Ford is a Hall of Famer because he was nails for the Yankees in the postseason.
The 1961 Yankees were known for their prodigious offense, but it took Whitey Ford at his absolute best to get the team off on the right foot against Frank Robinson and the Cincinnati Reds.
Backed by only two solo homers by Elston Howard and Moose Skowron (Jim O’Toole also spun an exceptional game), Ford went the distance, shutting out the powerful Reds on just two hits. He walked a single man (Frank Robinson in the seventh, wisely), and struck out six along the way. Ford was a postseason virtuoso, and this was his best work.
With only the World Series at his disposal (no ALCS in Ford’s days, and he would’ve puked at the thought of an ALDS), the Chairman of the Board appeared in 11 playoff series, and went 10-8 with a sterling 2.71 ERA in 22 starts. That mark was even inflated a bit by his final outing in 1964 against the Cardinals, a 5.1-inning outing with five earned runs allowed.
While it’s almost impossible to pick a singular Ford start for a list like this, the ’61 opener stands out as an impressive tone-setter against an elite team that appeared to have tamed the Yankees offense and neutralized their biggest advantage. Not so fast.