Wednesday, April 01, 2009

#330 Whitey Ford

#330 Whitey Ford
We're wrapping up another handful of cards from Max with yet another Hall of Famer. Not just any Hall of Famer: the Chairman of the Board. Whitey Ford looks like he was born in those pinstripes. For some reason, he also looks a bit wall-eyed, but never mind.

Fun facts about Whitey Ford:

-A native New Yorker, Whitey signed with the Yankees in 1947.

-Hit the ground running with a 9-1 record and 2.81 ERA as a rookie in 1950. Finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Boston's Walt Dropo, who batted .322 with 34 HR and 144 RBI. Dropo was five years older than Ford, for what that's worth.

-Lost the 1951 and 1952 seasons, as he served in the Army during the Korean War.

-Returned in 1953 to go 18-6. His .750 winning percentage set the stage for a long run of thirteen straight winning seasons (fourteen, if you include 1950). He didn't post a losing mark until he was 36 years old in 1966, when he went 2-5 and only started nine games. Overall, his .690 winning percentage is a record for pitchers with 200 or more wins.

-Pitched in eleven World Series with the Yankees (the team went 6-5), going 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA. Holds several Fall Classic records, including wins, strikeouts (94) and Game 1 starts (8).

-Won ERA crowns in 1956 (2.47) and 1958 (2.01).

-His best season was 1961, when he went 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA. The ERA was actually his second-highest, but a career-high 283 innings pitched combined with a record-breaking Yankee offense (led by Mantle and Maris' pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record) gave Whitey his first 20-win season. He won the Cy Young Award and the World Series MVP (2-0, 6 H, 0 ER in 14 IP).

-Retired during the 1967 season, his 16th with New York. Overall, he was 236-106 (A Yankee record for wins) with 156 complete games, 45 shutouts, and a 2.75 ERA.

-Was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974, and had his #16 retired by the Yankees that year. His son Eddie was drafted in the first round by the Red Sox that summer, and reached AAA as a shortstop before his career stalled.

-Post-retirement, he admitted to doctoring the baseball, which was a poorly-kept secret in the first place. He used his wedding ring (and later a sharpened belt buckle) to scuff the ball, and relied on catcher Elston Howard to "lose his balance" and brace himself with the hand holding the ball, thereby coating it in mud before throwing it back to the mound. Stories like this make me wonder if much of the steroid furor in baseball is just a tad hypocritical.
#330 Whitey Ford (back)

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