The Great Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford Turns 89, October 21, 2017! Happy Birthday Whitey!

The Great Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford Turns 89, October 21, 2017! Happy Birthday Whitey!

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Happy Birthday Whitey Ford!

I can’t let another day go by without wishing a belated “Happy Birthday” to the Yankees’ great Hall-of-Famer, Whitey Ford, who turned 89 yesterday, October 21.

Whitey pitched 16 years in the major leagues, all with the Yankees. Over his career (1950-1967, with two years lost to military service during the Korean War), the 10-time All-Star went 236-106, with a 2.75 ERA and 1956 strike outs over 498 games and 3170 innings. His career winning percentage of .690 ranks fourth all-time.

The 5’10”, 178 lb. lefty was a member of 11 American League pennant winners and six World Series championships. He led the American League three times in wins, and twice in ERA. His best year was probably 1961 when he posted a remarkable 25-4 record (.862), with a 3.21 ERA over 283 innings, winning both the Cy Young Award and the World Series MVP. In 22 post season starts, he went 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA. 

Was his success just because he was on some great Yankee teams? Sure that was a big factor, as it would be for any pitcher, but it’s not the complete story: The Yankees went 1,486-1,027 during his 16 years; but if you subtract his 236-106 record, they went 1,250-921 (.575). The Yankee’s team record was a significant 11.4 percent higher with Whitey on the team than without him.

Here’s a few bits of information about Whitey Ford’s great Hall-of-Fame career:

*Among pitchers with at least 300 career decisions, Ford’s .690 winning percentage ranks first all-time in modern baseball history.

*Whitey’s 2.75 earned run average is the second-lowest among starting pitchers whose careers started after the advent of the live-ball era in 1920.

*He made a spectacular debut in July, 1950, winning his first nine decisions, and was voted the Rookie of the Year by the Sporting News.

*He picked up the nickname “Chairman of the Board” due to his ability to remain calm and in command during high-pressure situations.

*He didn’t have an overwhelming fastball, but became an effective strikeout pitcher due to his pinpoint control.

*Twice in his career (1956 and ’58) he tied a major league record with six consecutive strikeouts. He also  pitched consecutive one-hitters in 1955.

*Whitey was a lefty with an excellent pick-off move, and set a record in 1961 by pitching 243 consecutive innings without allowing a stolen base.

*His 236 victories for the Yankees is still a franchise record.

*He ranks 13th in major league career wins for a lefty.

*Ford had 45 shutout victories in his career, including eight 1-0 wins.

Happy Birthday Whitey! May you have many more! I think we can all agree with New York Times sportswriter George Vescey who proclaimed after Yogi Berra’s passing in 2015 that Whitey Ford is now “The Greatest Living Yankee”!

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Whitey Ford Wikipedia page. Statistics from Baseball, Whitey Ford page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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