There have been some amazing left handed pitchers in the history of baseball. Hall of Famers such as Tom Glavine, Steve Carlton, Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax, as well as pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw immediately come to mind. Perhaps none were as good as Edward Ford, otherwise known as “Whitey.”
Whitey is the greatest pitcher in the most fabled franchise in sports, the vaunted New York Yankees. He had a .690 winning percentage, only losing 106 ballgames at a time when wins and losses were heralded. He won a record 10 World Series games, and in doing so pitched to a record 33 2/3rd scoreless consecutive World Series innings. Dubbed “The Chairman of the Board” by batterymate Elston Howard, Whitey was scintillating. He’s one of the few pitchers to successfully use his lower body both in the wind up and out of the stretch. He pitched 3170 innings over 16 seasons. He didn’t have an overpowering fastball, but the snap his secondary stuff was second to none, generating insane movement, especially for the time period. You can see a full breakdown from Baseball Rebellion below:
He wasn’t a commanding strikeout pitcher. In the high inning total, he still struck out less than 2000 batters over the course of his career. Nevertheless, his contact oriented pitching was second to zero.
He signed with the Yankees prior to the 1947 season, having grown up on 66th Street in Manhattan. His idol was Joe DiMaggio, who he’d take the Subway to the Bronx solely to see. He later teamed with DiMaggio. He immediately became friends with Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez out of the gate. It was Gomez who christened him “Whitey.”
Ford made his debut in 1950, but it was short lived as he served in the military while the U.S. was in Korea.
He was cited joking “army life was rough, they wanted me to pitch three times a week.” He was stationed at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey.
He returned to the Majors in 1953 and went onto ten All-Star selections. His most acclaimed season was the year he won the American League Cy Young award, going a modest 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA and a league leading 3.14 FIP (somehow he had peripheral numbers) in 39 games.
Ted Williams is considered by many the greatest hitter who ever lived, and credits Ford as the toughest pitcher he had ever faced. Over their careers when they matched up, Ted struggled.
Since the liveball era began, his 2.75 ERA is the lowest of any pitcher, just edging out Tom Seaver’s 2.86, another New York Baseball Legend who passed away at the end of August. Eight of his 45 complete game shutouts ended in a 1-0 score.
He never showed emotion. He was a rock. He never showed up another player after a big strikeout and he never responded to anything in a negative. All around just a baseball icon. His number 16 is one of many retired numbers in Monument Park, alongside numbers such as 42 (Mariano Rivera), 4 (Lou Gehrig) and 7 (Mickey Mantle). He was the only Yankee pitcher to have his number retired until Ron Guidry in 2002.
He entered Cooperstown in 1974, on his second ballot, with teammate Mickey Mantle.
PSE is saddened to hear about the passing of Whitey Ford at 91 years old.
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