Saturday, September 17, 2022

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: Whitey Ford


The player: Whitey Ford was the greatest starting pitcher in Yankees history. He came up with the Yankees in 1950 and made an immediate impact, going 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA, and won the clinching Game 4 of the World Series. He lost all of the 1951 and 1952 seasons to military service, but came back in 1953 and picked up right where he left off, going 18-6 with an ERA of 3.00. Until his retirement in 1967, hastened by a circulatory issue in his arm, he was one of the most effective pitchers in baseball. In fact, his 2.75 ERA is the lowest for any pitcher of the live-ball era. His win totals (236) and strikeout totals (1,956) would have been much higher if he hadn't missed two seasons in the prime of his career, and because Casey Stengel went with a five-man rotation, unusual for the era, and often would delay Ford's starts to match him up against tough opponents. He didn't win 20 in a season until Ralph Houk brought back a four-man rotation in 1961. He was just as good, if not better, in World Series play. He pitched in 11 Series and was 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA, and his 33.2 scoreless innings streak in the World Series is still a major league record.

The man: Ford grew up in Astoria, Queens, a short subway ride to Yankee Stadium, and was a big Yankee fan as a child. Off the field, during his playing career, he was known to enjoy the nightlife and frequently partied with friends Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, but was universally respected as a kindhearted person, who would go out of his way to help everyone from teammates to sick children. In fact, the one major bar-fight of his career, the infamous Copacabana incident, occurred when Ford and his teammates confronted members of a bowling team who were shouting racist remarks. After his career, Ford served as Yankee pitching coach for a couple of brief stints, and for decades was a spring training instructor for the team. He died in 2020, watching a Yankee playoff game on TV at his home in Lake Success, Long Island.

My collection: I have Ford's last three Topps cards, 1965, 1966 and 1967.


  1. It's a good thing I wasn't born 20 years earlier, because I might have ended up being a Yankees fan. I know for sure that I would have rooted for Whitey. Over the years I have targeted a few of his cards for my Lefty PC, but it's been awhile since I've added anything new.

  2. I could be misremembering, but I could of swore that somebody did a post sometime in the last few months that questioned Whitey's inclusion into the HOF. It's possible that I'm thinking of another player, but it feels like it was Whitey.