Perhaps the greatest pitcher in the illustrious history of the New York Yankees, Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, died at his home in Lake Success on Thursday at the age of 91, according to multiple news reports.
Ford, a former resident of Glen Cove, died with his wife, Joan, of 69 years and his family by his side at their Long Island home while watching the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the American League Divisional Series, according to reports.
“I grew up on Long Island, not too far from Yankee Stadium,” Ford said during his 1974 Hall of Fame speech. “I was a Yankee fan since I was 5 or 6 years old. To think when I was 21 years old I’d be playing with [Joe] DiMaggio and [Yogi] Berra against guys like Stan Musial and Roy Campanella, it’s just something I can’t fathom. It’s just been great.”
“Whitey’s name and accomplishments are forever stitched into the fabric of baseball’s rich history,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “He was a treasure, and one of the greatest of Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes. Beyond the accolades that earned him his rightful spot within the walls of the Hall of Fame, in so many ways he encapsulated the spirit of the Yankees teams he played for and represented for nearly two decades.”
Nicknamed “Whitey” because of his blond hair, Ford spent his entire 16-year professional career with the Yankees, finishing with a 236-106 record, a 2.75 ERA, eight All-Star selections and a remarkable 45 shutouts. The lefty was dubbed “The Chairman of the Board” during his stint in the Bronx and was an integral cog in a machine that churned out six World Series titles over that span.
Ford also won the 1961 American League Cy Young Award after going 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 283 innings. In 22 postseason starts, Ford went 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1961 World Series after winning two starts against the Cincinnati Reds.
In that series, Ford passed teammate Babe Ruth’s mark for consecutive shutout innings pitched on Oct. 8. Ford’s passing came on the 64th anniversary of recently deceased pinstripe legend Don Larsen’s perfect game during the 1956 World Series.
“Whitey earned his status as the ace of some of the most memorable teams in our sport’s rich history,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Beyond the Chairman of the Board’s excellence on the mound, he was a distinguished ambassador for our National Pastime throughout his life. I extend my deepest condolences to Whitey’s family, his friends and admirers throughout our game, and all fans of the Yankees.”
Ford began his career in 1950 before taking the next two years off to serve in the Korean War. Steinbrenner touted Ford’s grit on and off the diamond.
“Whitey was New York tough. When you couple that with his dedicated service to our country, a deep love for the only team he ever played for, six World Championships, and a genuine personality and charisma that showed throughout his life, it’s no wonder he endeared himself as a legend to generations of Yankees fans everywhere.
Ford joins a group that includes Tom Seaver, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson as Hall of Fame players who have died since August.
Ford is survived by his daughter, Sally Ann, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, according to multiple reports. Efforts to reach Ford’s family for comment were unavailing.