The 'Chairman of the Board', Whitey Ford Passes at 91

EvilEmpire

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Whitey Ford, a Hall of Fame pitcher who won more World Series games than any other pitcher, died on Friday, the New York Yankees announced. He was 91.
2020 is the worst.
 

edoug

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Condolences to the Whitey's friends, family, the Yankees and it's fans.
 

Al Zarilla

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In the wild and woolly 1960 World Series that Mazeroski won with a walkoff homer, Whitey had two complete game shutouts with scores of 10-0 and 12-0. Mantle slashed .400/545/.800. But the Pirates won. Crazy, crazy world series.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Whiteys last World Series appearance was against Gibson and the Cardinals in ‘64. Kind of a passing of the torch between two great World Series aces.
 

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Legends dropping like flies. RIP.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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My dad knew him a little bit. They were at Fort Dix or Fort Monmouth in New Jersey together during the Korean War. Somewhere in my mom’s house there are a couple of baseballs signed by him.
 

terrynever

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Whitey went 9-1 in his rookie half-season of 1950, then spent two years in the Army. He won 236 games in all, so add in another 30 for those lost seasons. My favorite thing about Whitey was his pickoff move to first base. Pettitte polished his move with advice from Ford in spring training. Whitey just froze runners with his stare.
He was Pedro’s size. Never had a big fastball but he threw his curve from several angles, including sidearm. Whitey commanded the mound. Casey never let him pitch every fourth day in the 1950s and liked to spot him in big games. Ralph turned him loose in 1961 and Ford won 25 games.
 

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Only one franchise can legitimately claim multiple dynasties. The greatest of those is the post-war dynasty from 1947 - 62, and now we have lost our last living link to that era, and the last of my childhood heroes.
The last Hall of Famer from that era, although Tony Kubek and Bobby Richardson were both starters for the last third of that period and are both still with us.
 

terrynever

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Yogi on Whitey:

“Whitey Ford … could throw a strike, three and two, with any number of his pitches. So I could call for a change up, a fastball, a slider, anything – three and two – and he could throw it overhand, he could throw it three quarters, or he could throw it side arm. So he had three different arm angles that would confuse a batter, and probably five different pitches. So you could never know.”
 

Couperin47

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The last Hall of Famer from that era, although Tony Kubek and Bobby Richardson were both starters for the last third of that period and are both still with us.
Yes, but the Yankees of that era were so packed with talent that those who didn't wind up in the HOF form a secondary tier, but just look at my avatar. My favorite from that tier happened to be Moose. Those who aren't Yankee fans of that era barely know these names.
 

joe dokes

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And the greatest nickname.

My grandfather took me to the original YS in 67 for my 6th birthday, which was a few weeks later. He hated the Yankees, but an uncle lived walking distance so he could park the car there (his biggest concern). I didn't remember much detail, other than it was a doubleheader. Years later I realized I saw whitey pitch one of his last games.

 
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terrynever

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Whiteys last World Series appearance was against Gibson and the Cardinals in ‘64. Kind of a passing of the torch between two great World Series aces.
That was the game where Whitey first exhibited pain attributed to circulation problems in his left shoulder. Koufax, JR Richard and David Cone had similar issues.
 

jon abbey

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“When the Yankees scored six or more runs, Whitey Ford’s record was 112-0.

Nobody else is even close. Even Pedro Martínez lost three times with six runs of support. Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson lost four times. Roger Clemens lost five times. But Ford, by mixing three different kinds of curveballs, a slider, a couple of different sinkers, an illegal pitch or two* and the occasional fastball — “the fastball isn’t generally a pitch you can get hitters out with,” he used to say — was never going to lose a game with that many runs behind him.”

 

ledsox

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Kornheiser said today he admitted to at times using spit, baby oil, terpentine, and rosin to doctor pitches. He would also cut the ball. That's a crafty lefty!
What a career.
 

terrynever

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Kornheiser said today he admitted to at times using spit, baby oil, terpentine, and rosin to doctor pitches. He would also cut the ball. That's a crafty lefty!
What a career.
It’s in his autobiography, in his own words. At least Whitey was honest.
===
Ford also detailed in his 1988 autobiography “Slick: My Life In and Out of Baseball,” that he’d doctored the baseball while pitching late in his career, especially as he dealt with hip and elbow injuries and a circulatory condition that required surgery. The eight-time All-Star wrote that he had difficulty mastering the spitball, but he claimed to learn from pitcher Lew Burdette how to strategically apply mud to the ball. He also scuffed the ball with a wedding ring specially made for him by a local jeweler. Ford even would cover the pitching rubber with dirt so he could start his delivery several inches in front of it.

“Talk about adding a yard to your fastball,” he joked. “I didn’t begin cheating until late in my career, when I needed something to help me survive…I didn’t cheat when I won the 25 games in 1961. I don’t want anybody to get any ideas and take my Cy Young Award away. And I didn’t cheat in 1963 when I won 24 games. Well, maybe a little.”
 

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Kornheiser said today he admitted to at times using spit, baby oil, terpentine, and rosin to doctor pitches. He would also cut the ball. That's a crafty lefty!
What a career.
I wanted to save this for the long form biographical post I’m going to give to personify him a more later today but there’s absolutely a wonderful story behind this regarding the (first) 1961 All Star Game in San Francisco, Whitey’s publicly earliest known instance of doctoring the ball, in this case a spitball.

So Whitey is out in the the Bay Area, golfing a bit at a country club with Mickey Mantle and Pete Stoneham, son of Giants owner Horace Stoneham. All of them come to realize that they have no funds. Pete comes up with the idea to just put everything on his father’s tab, and go to the pro shop to spend hundreds on shirts, balls, and shoes.

As Whitey’s conscience got the better of him, he goes out to Horace and offers to repay the cost of all the goods. Ever the wise better, Stoneham tells Ford that if he can strike out Willie Mays, the cost is covered; should Mays get a base hit, double the cost would be owed.

You should recall that to that point Mays popped two singles off Ford in two trips in the 1955 All Star Game, then took Ford deep in the following All Star Game at Griffith Stadium, added a triple for good measure in 1959, and finally a home run and single off of Ford in the second All Star Game of 1960, for a beefy 1.000/1.000/2.333 to that point. Eventually, the Say Hey Kid would smash three straight singles to begin the next season’s World Series, ultimately going 4/9 with a walk.

Whitey Ford, confident as ever, took the offer. It can’t be stated enough about his swagger. Just look at the 1963 World Series two years after this story, at a time when many pitchers cowered in fear of the imposing, intimidating Frank ‘Hondo’ Howard’s 6’7” height, Ford simply marveled: Look at the size of that strike zone!

So, back to Mays and Ford for this anecdote. The first two pitches, it felt as if it would be more of the same, Ford could not retire Mays. Two zippers tattooed down the left field line, hard and just foul. Ford knew he only needed one pitch to escape his debt. He properly wets, rocks back, winds, and fires—strike three called! If you’ve ever seen Mickey Mantle act overtly excited in this moment out in centerfield like he had won the lottery out there? Well, that’s the reason why, since that whiff absolved him as well.
 

ledsox

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^ Great story. Terpentine though (per Kornheiser), that's what I want to hear about.

Sad symmetry for a couple fan bases. Gibson passes, Cards eliminated that day and then yesterday.
 

terrynever

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Horace was a colossal drunk whom Mantle and Ford knew well from Toots Shor’s bar in NYC. Horace al s o moved the Giants to SF well before Walter O’Malley signed his deal with LA. One of baseball’s true clowns.