The Chairman of the Board

“You would be amazed how many important outs you can get by working the count down to where the hitter is sure you’re going to throw to his weakness, and then throw to his power instead.”
Hall of Famer Whitey Ford

Eddie “Whitey” Ford won the most  games(236) of any New York Yankees pitcher. His .690 winning percentage(236 wins & 106 losses) is the best of any pitcher with 300 or more career decisions. Whitey Ford was a perennial All-Star who won the Cy Young Award in 1961 with a record of 25-4. Ford holds the record for most World Series wins(10) and most World Series losses(8). Whitey Ford won 20 games twice in his career and posted a magnificent lifetime E.R.A. of 2.75. Ford played on six World Championship New York Yankees teams and was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1974, his second year of eligibility.

As great a pitcher as Whitey Ford was, he took it to another level in big games. Until Sandy Koufax became a dominant pitcher, the feeling among many baseball people, was that if you needed to pick a pitcher to win a big game, it would be Whitey Ford.

Whitey Ford never got rattled and thrived under pressure.

Some people mistakenly said that the reason Whitey Ford had a great record is because he played on great teams with the Yankees. Two answers to that: Ford’s lifetime E.R.A. was 2.75 and check’s Ford’s winning percentage and check the Yankees winning percentage during Ford’s career and you will see that Whitey’s winning percentage was a good deal higher than that of the Yankees teams for which he played.

Whitey Ford excelled with the New York Yankees in the 1950’s.

When Ralph Houk became manger in 1961, he did a very smart thing. He pitched Whitey Ford every fourth day which is something Casey Stengel did not do. The result was Ford made a career high 39 starts and went 25-4 and won the Cy Young Award. Ford also won 24 games in 1963.

I think that Felipe Alou may have explained a big reason for Whitey Ford’s greatness. When Felipe managed the Indianapolis Indians in 1985, I asked him about facing Whitey Ford during the 1962 World Series between the Yankees and San Francisco Giants. Felipe said, “When I thought it would be a strike, it turned out to be a ball. When I thought it would be a ball, it turned out to be a strike.”

This is a wonderful compliment.

To this day, I am puzzled that Whitey Ford did not get enough votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame his first year of eligibility. Then, again, by getting in the second year he was eligible, that enabled him to be inducted with his close friend and teammate, Mickey Mantle.

Mantle and Ford led the Yankees to pennant after pennant from the early 1950’s to 1964.

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One Response to The Chairman of the Board

  1. Pete Cava says:

    Watching Whitey Ford on the mound was like seeing Michelangelo at work. Ford was an artist who knew how to pitch. Howard Kellman is right on target about Ford’s abilities: Whitey wasn’t great because he pitched for the Yankees. The Yanks were great because of players like Ford.

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