Legendary New York Yankees pitcher and Baseball Hall of Fame member Whitey Ford has died at the age of 91, ESPN reported. He passed away at his Long Island home Thursday, night; his cause of death has not been revealed.
He Was Born October 21, 1928, In Manhattan
Described by Encyclopedia.com as “brash, irreverent, funny,” Edward Charles Ford — the son of a bartender and a homemaker — grew up in a baseball-loving family, and he and his neighborhood friends in Astoria, Queens frequently battled it out on the sandlots. He attended a technical high school, possibly with his sights on a career in aviation mechanics. However, he had little interest in his studies, preferring to play baseball instead.
After graduation, he continued to play amateur ball. Soon, scouts from the Majors were taking an interest, and in 1946, he signed with the Yankees, the team with which he would spend the rest of his career as a player. During his first few years in the Yankees’ minor-league system, he earned the nickname “Whitey” because of his light blonde hair.
He Made His Yankees Debut On July 1, 1950
Ford’s first year in the majors was, by the standards of MLB rookies, a spectacular one. He won his first nine games before his first loss that year came as a relief pitcher. By the end of the season, despite pitching just 112 innings, he was named American League Rookie of the Year by Sporting News, and even received a few votes for Most Valuable Player.
He Went On To Become A Yankees Legend
Save for a brief stint serving in the Korean War between 1951-1952, Ford spent the entirety of his career with the Yankees. He played alongside team legends such as Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Roger Maris, and others, and played on six World Series-winning teams. He made ten appearances in the All-Star Game; won the Cy Young Award and World Series MVP, both in 1961; and eventually had his uniform, Number 16, retired.
By 1966 Ford’s health was in decline, and in 1967 he made just one start before hanging up his cleats for good.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
By the end of his career, Ford had taken to cheating. After his retirement, he admitted that he sometimes doctored the ball with mud, or used his wedding ring to cut it.
“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 twenty-five 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 twenty-four games. Well, maybe a little,” he admitted in his autobiography.
He Was A Coach And A Broadcaster After His Playing Career
After his playing days were behind him, Ford spent a few years coaching with the Yankees, and later, became a broadcaster for the Toronto Blue Jays.
He was also a businessman. He opened up a restaurant, Whitey Ford’s Cafe, in 2002.
He Had Two Sons And A Daughter With Joan Foran
In 1951, during a furlough from his service in Korea, Ford married his high-school sweetheart Joan Foran. All of his Yankee teammates, save for Mickey Mantle, who was too shy so he sat on the bus, attended the wedding. The couple had three children — a daughter and two sons.