When you think of the history New York Yankees, the most storied franchise in baseball history, most fans will immediately think about the long line of sluggers and great hitters, with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter leading the way. When you think of the great Yankee pitchers, it’s hard to come up with a list that matches the hitters, but one name that always jumps out is Whitey Ford.
Most baseball fans recognize Ford as a Hall of Fame pitcher, but some of his accomplishments still don’t get the attention they deserve given the notoriety of teammates like Mickey Mantle. For example, with 236 wins, Ford is the all-time leader in wins in a Yankee uniform. His first 20-win season came in 1961 when he finished 25-4 record and won the Cy Young Award. But that’s also the season when the entire nation was glued to the home run chase between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
You don’t have to explain this to die-hard Yankee fans however, as Ford was the best pitcher on one of the greatest dynasties in baseball history. In two separate stretches he pitched game one of the World Series four years in a row! Overall he was 10-8 after 22 starts World Series starts. Nobody has won or started more World Series games.
When you look at his career, there are a couple of fascinating things that jump out. Ford has the best all-time winning percentage (.690) among all pitchers with at least 300 career decisions. Ford had a lifetime ERA of 2.75 and his worst ERA was 3.24. Since the advent of the Live Ball Era in 1920, Ford’s lifetime ERA is the lowest. One interesting record involved his excellent move to first base, as he set a record in 1961 for not allowing a stolen base over 243 consecutive innings.
Ford served in the Korean War, so he was a veteran like many of the greats from the 40s, 50s and 60s. He once joked, “Army life was rough. Would you believe it, they actually wanted me to pitch three times a week.”
As a member of those iconic Yankee teams with greats like Mantle, Ford will always be beloved by Yankee fans. For them he’ll always be the Chairman of the Board. But he’s also one of the greatest left handed pitchers in history.