Whitey Ford, Hall of Famer and former New York Yankee pitcher, has passed away, it was announced today. Ford was 91.
Ford made his major league debut for the Yankees as a 20 year old in 1950, putting up a 2.81 ERA in 112 innings over 12 starts and 8 relief appearances, going 9-1 and going 8.2 innings to get the win in the Yankees’ Game 4 World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. He finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting that season to Boston Red Sox first baseman Walt Dropo (who had the same bWAR as Ford, but 144 RBIs, which is hard to beat in award balloting) and 21st in the MVP voting.
Ford then missed the next two seasons serving in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. Upon his return, Ford quickly established himself as the #1 starter on a New York Yankees club that is remembered as one of the all time dynasties. The Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series in 1953, Ford’s first year back with the club, finished second in the A.L. in 1954 (despite winning 103 games), then won the American League pennant nine times in the next ten years, falling short only in 1959. Ford excelled in the postseason, putting up a 2.71 ERA in 146 innings over 22 starts in the World Series.
Ford was an All Star in eight different seasons*, appeared on MVP ballots nine times, and won the American League Cy Young Award in 1961, when he was also named the World Series MVP after allowing 0 runs in 14 IP over a pair of starts against the Cincinnati Reds.
* Ford was a ten-time All Star, though for a period of time in the 50s MLB had two All Star Games, and twice Ford was name to the team for both games.
Ford remained a mainstay in the rotation through 1965, split his time between the rotation and bullpen in 1966, then appeared in just 7 games, all starts, at the age of 38 in 1967. Remarkably, even at that age, he dazzled, recording a 1.64 ERA in 44 innings over those 7 starts. However, he was coming back from having shoulder surgery in 1966, and in May, 1967, after going just one inning in what would be his last start, he announced his retirement.
Ford was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974, on the second ballot, and the Class of 1974 consisted of just two players — Ford and his longtime teammate and friend, Mickey Mantle.
Baseball has lost a number of legendary players in 2020. Bob Gibson passed away a week ago, Lou Brock and Tom Seaver each passed away in September, and Al Kaline passed way in April.