Whitey Ford : I Would Cheat to Stay Pitching in the Major Leagues for the Money

Harold FriendChief Writer IOctober 28, 2011

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 24:  Hall of Famer Whitey Ford is introduced at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 24, 2011 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It is interesting to project or reason inductively, although the possibility of reaching the wrong conclusion must be recognized.

During a July, 1987 interview, Whitey Ford told sportswriter Phil Pepe, who covered the New York Yankees from 1961-84 that he doesn't object to pitchers doctoring the baseball. 

''If there are some pitchers doing it and getting away with it, that's fine by me,'' Ford said.. ''If it were me and I needed to cheat to be able to throw the good stuff that would keep me in the major leagues at a salary of about $800,000 a year, I'd do whatever I had to do.

''I quit pitching after I had a second shoulder operation when I was 38-years-old and making about $75,000 a year. If the money had been as good in those days as it is now, I'd have pitched into my 40's like a lot of players are doing today. And I would have used whatever help I needed to get batters out.''

In 2011, players consider $800,000 the salary of only untried rookies or pitchers trying to hang on to their careers.

Ford admitted, although it was generally common knowledge, that later in his career he used mud and dirt to help him. He detailed how he applied saliva to one side of the ball and then rubbed it into the dirt as he reached for the rosin bag.

Ford cut the ball with a ring and used a mixture of baby oil, turpentine and rosin in an empty deodorant bottle that he kept in his jacket on the bench.

Now for the projection.

In 1987, Ford said that he would do whatever he had to do to earn $800,000 a season. If steroids were available then, as they were during the "steroid era," would Ford had used them?

While it is recognized that it is logical, based on his statement, that he might be tempted, Whitey Ford is too smart to become involved with performance enhancing substances.

There is a world of difference between scuffing up a baseball and injecting one's body with steroids.

In 1957, a sore-armed Ford  spoke to his friend, Toots Shor, who recommended Dr. Milton Reder. Ford visited the good doctor, received the treatment and reported his shoulder felt better the next day.

Ford didn’t know Dr. Reder had treated his patients, who included many celebrities, for pain with a solution of about 13 percent cocaine. Reder used cocaine he had purchased legally from pharmaceutical companies.

Cortisone is a steroid hormone used to provide short-term pain relief and reduce the swelling from inflammation of a joint or tendon. It is commonly used by ball players, especially pitchers.

Whitey Ford doctored the baseball while batters, including Norm Cash, who led the American League in 1961 with a .361 batting average, corked his bat. Teams used to water down the infield in attempts to slow down Maury Wills. How did the New York Giants win the 1951 pennant?

Baseball reflects society. Some methods used to gain an "edge" are accepted. Some methods are frowned upon but acknowledged. Some methods are denied as existing.


"SCOUTING; Ford Defends Doctoring." New York Times 21 July 1987. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.


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