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L E’s Stories – Tribute To Whitey Ford: “Cool, Crafty with Nerves of Steel”

                                                                       leaning for the sign                                                                                                                                              the pitcher rotates the ball                                                                                                                                                 behind his back
                                                                                                      Japanese Baseball Haiku

 

I’ll bet you “10 bucks to a hole in a donut” that most of you don’t know what a Japonese Haiku is….so, I’ll give you a quick lesson…..as a haiku is an unrhymed poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. The haiku first emerged in Japanese literature during the 17th century….as a terse reaction to elaborate poetic traditions….albeit did not become known by the name haiku until the 19th century….and the above is a famous Japanese Baseball Haiku……and baseball is revered in Japan.                                                                                                                                                       

MLB – 1928 To 2018 – Special Photos – New York Yankees P Whitey Ford: From Baby To 89 Year Old

                                                                                                                                                                                      I was sitting next to Bone Daddy one night watching a program on ESPN called “The Boys in the Hall”  ……which was narrated by Tom Brokaw.  We were watching this program because it was about the Hall of Fame career of Whitey Ford….a Yankee of course….who happened to be BD’s all time favorite Yankee starting pitcher ever…..as Whitey’s story began on East 66th St, across from where the City of New York parked their trolley cars……a place where the neighborhood boys would play stick ball….and the place where Whitey grew up a Yankee fan.                                                                                                                               

MLB – 1950 To 1967 – Yankeeography Special – The Career And Legend Of Whitey Ford – A 69% Career Winner

In 1948 as a 5’ 10” 180 lb first baseman…..he tried out for the Yankees…..for back in the day, MLB teams would hold open tryouts….and Whitey tried out but he couldn’t hit a curve ball….so a Yankee scout suggested he try pitching….and just one year later, he signs his first Yankee contract as a pitcher in 1950….with a signing bonus of $7,000.  In 1950, the Yankees were in the second year of winning 5 consecutive World Series….and Yankee manager Casey Stengel already had veteran starters Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, Ed Lopat and Tommy Byrne….so he pitched Whitey against the poorer teams like the St Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox….who weren’t as good as the richer teams were during that era.       

MLB – 1961 – World Series Game 1 – New York Yankees Vs Cincinnati Reds – Featuring Yanks P Whitey Ford With Host Mel Allen

                                                                                                                                                                            Whitey still remembers today the feeling he had when he first took the mound as a New York Yankee at Yankee Stadium….there was his childhood idol, Joe Dimaggio, playing center field…..but it was the Yankees young guns…..Mantle, Berra and Martin…..with whom Whitey would become “running buddies” and the core players who would establish the record of winning 13 out of 15 American League Championships and 9 World Series throughout Whitey’s career from 1950 to 1964…..an impressive feat by any standard. Entering the last series of the 1950 season against the Detroit Tigers….the Yankees arch rival at the time…..when Mgr. Casey Stengel inserts Whitey as the starting pitcher in place of Raschi……who had a sore shoulder. Whitey proceeded to throw a 6 hit complete game shutout….ending the season with a 9 – 1 record and being voted Rookie of the Year.                                                                                              

MLB – 1955 – Special – Slow Motion Footage Of New York Yankees Hall Of Fame Pitcher Whitey Ford

                                                                                                                                                                              Ford eventually went from the No. 4 pitcher on a great staff to the universally acclaimed No. 1 pitcher of the Yankees. He became known as the “Chairman of the Board” for his ability to remain calm and in command during high-pressure situations. He was also known as “Slick,” a nickname given to him, Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle by manager Casey Stengel, who called them Whiskey Slicks. Ford’s guile was necessary because he did not have an overwhelming fastball, but being able to throw several other pitches very well gave him pinpoint control. Ford was an effective strikeout pitcher for his time, tying the then-AL record for six consecutive strikeouts in 1956, and again in 1958. Ford never threw a no-hitter, but he pitched two consecutive one-hit games in 1955 to tie a record held by several pitchers.                                 

MLB – 1950 To 1967 – Hall Of Fame Biographies: New York Yankees P Whitey Ford

                                                                                                                                                                                      In 1955, Ford led the American League in complete games and games won; in 1956 in earned run average and winning percentage; in 1958, in earned run average; and in both 1961 and 1963, in games won and winning percentage. Ford won the Cy Young Award in 1961; he likely would have won the 1963 AL Cy Young, but this was before the institution of a separate award for each league, and Ford could not match Sandy Koufax’s numbers for the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League. He would also have been a candidate in 1955, but this was before the award was created.                                                                  

1950 Topps Baseball     Card NY Yankees           P Whitey Ford
1954 Topps Baseball    Card NY Yankees         P Whitey Ford
1961 Bowman             Baseball Card              NY Yankees              P Whitey Ford
1955 Topps Baseball      Card NY Yankees           P Whitey Ford
1956 Topps Baseball      Card NY Yankees           P Whitey Ford

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some of Ford’s totals were depressed by Yankees’ manager Casey Stengel, who viewed Ford as his top pitching asset and often reserved his ace left-hander for more formidable opponents such as the Tigers, Indians, and White Sox. When Ralph Houk became the manager in 1961, he promised Ford that he would pitch every fourth day, regardless of the opponent; after exceeding 30 starts only once in his nine seasons under Stengel, Ford had 39 in 1961. His first 20-win season, a career-best 25-4 record, and the Cy Young Award ensued, but Ford’s season was overshadowed by the home run battle between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. As a left-hander with an excellent pick-off move, Ford was also deft at keeping runners at their base: He set a record in 1961 by pitching 243 consecutive innings without allowing a stolen base.

1962 Topps     Baseball Card       NY Yankees    P Whitey Ford
1957 Topps Baseball            Card NY Yankees                 P Whitey Ford
1958 Bowman Baseball          Card NY Yankees               P Whitey Ford
1959 Topps Baseball           Card NY Yankees                P Whitey Ford
1952 Topps World Series NY Yanks      P Whitey Ford       Sets New High

 

 

 

 

 

       Known for their off field antics….the rat pack consisting of Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were frequent patrons of Toots Shores…..where the young Yanks hung out with the likes of Ty Cobb and Don Ameche. As Whitey put it….”we really raised hell the first 3 years…..but we picked our spots”. On one famous night out….the three were celebrating Martin’s birthday at the Copa Cabana…..on a night when Sammy Davis, Jr. was performing. There was a bowling team there that night……who started making loud racial slurs at Sammy….so Hank Bauer went over to their table and told the “good ole boys” to cool it….which of course was received by the start of a huge barroom brawl…..and by the time the ruckus ended…..the young Yanks got fined $2,000 each….and Billy Martin was traded to Kansas City…..because the Yankee brass thought he was a bad influence on the others…..but Whitey said he was not and always noted that neither he or Mickey needed Billy’s influence saying….”We had plenty enough of our own bad influence.”                                                                                                                                                                       

MLB – 1960s – ESPN Special – Baseball’s Greatest Hits – Featuring Yankees Whitey Ford + Yogi Berra + Mickey Mantle – With George Grande

                                                                                                                                                                            Whitey retired in 1964 at the age of 38 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974 as a first ballot inductee along with his teammate and good friend, Mickey Mantle. The night before the Induction Ceremony….Whitey spent the night up in his room preparing his speech….and all the while…..The Mick, his 4 sons and Whitey’s 2 sons found a locked room at the hotel that had a pool table in it….so Mickey gained access thru the transom above the locked door….and he and the 6 boys played pool and drank beer all night. And in typical style….The Mick had 3 hours of sleep and never wrote a speech….and in Whitey’s words…”was as spectacular on stage as he was in center field that day at The Hall”.                             

MLB – 1950 To 1967 – Special – Five Facts About New York Yankees P Whitey Ford

                                                                                                                                                                                  After the conclusion of 2010 World Series…..Whitey Ford still held World Series Records for the Most Wins / Most Games Pitched / Most Innings Pitched / Strikeouts / 33 and 1/3 Scoreless Innings…..while being able to hold The Splendid Splenter Ted Williams……who had a 21 year career lifetime batting average of .344 to a career batting average against Whitey Ford of .215….and as The Mick said of The Chairman Of The Board….as the Yankees like to refer to Whitey….that… “no matter what the situation or how much pressure….Whitey pitched his game….COOL, CALM with NERVES OF STEEL”.                               

MLB – 2009 – Times Talk Special – Brandon Steiner Interviews HOF Pitcher NY Yankees Whitey Ford

 

 

 

 

 

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