Yankees Hall of Famer Whitey Ford Dies at Age 91

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2020

Hall of Fame left hander Ed
Associated Press

The New York Yankees announced Friday that Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford, who spent his entire 16-year playing career in pinstripes, has died at the age of 91:

Ford is arguably the greatest pitcher in Yankees history. He led the team to six World Series titles and was named World Series MVP when New York beat the Cincinnati Reds in 1961.

Known as the Chairman of the Board, Ford was also a 10-time All-Star, two-time ERA champion and one-time American League Cy Young Award winner who finished his career with a 236-106 record and a 2.75 ERA.

Fellow Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Jim Palmer were among those who gave their thoughts on Ford following his passing:

Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters he took comfort in knowing Ford died while watching New York play Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Ford's legendary status is based primarily on the success he enjoyed during the postseason. In 22 career playoff starts, he went 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA. All 10 of those wins came in the World Series, making him the winningest pitcher in World Series history.

The New York City native ranks 17th in MLB history in regular-season wins by a lefty despite missing two entire seasons because of military service.

Ford's debut season was in 1950 when he went 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA as a 21-year-old. He also allowed no earned runs in 8.2 innings in his first career World Series start against the Philadelphia Phillies that season and earned the win in the championship-clinching Game 4.

That made Ford the youngest pitcher in Yankees history to start a playoff game, a record he held for 70 years until Deivi Garcia broke it in Game 2 of the 2020 American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

After his military service, Ford established himself as the ace of New York's staff. He won 16 or more games in a season 10 times, including a career-high 25 in his Cy Young Award-winning season of 1961.

Ford still stands as the Yankees' career leader in wins (236), innings pitched (3,170.1) and shutouts (45). He is also second in team history with a pitching WAR of 53.6, placing him only behind legendary closer Mariano Rivera.

The 27-time champion Yankees' status as the most successful franchise in the history of sports is often attributed to hitters such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. But if not for the reliable left arm of Ford, New York may not have been Major League Baseball's preeminent team in the 1950s and 1960s.