Oct. 7, 1950: Ford gets first of six rings

Lawrence_90.jpgBy Thomas Lawrence

The Chairman of the Board emphatically shut the door on Philly’s 59 years ago today — Oct. 7, 1950.


10-7-09-Lawrence_FordPitch.jpgWhitey Ford
, dubbed the “Chairman of the Board” by teammates, is the all-time World Series leader in wins (10) and strikeouts (94). It all began in Game 4 of the 1950 Fall Classic, as his Yankees were looking for a sweep of manger Eddie Sawyer’s Philadelphia Phillies.

On a Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, in front of more than 68,000 fans, Ford had the ball opposite Phils hurler Bob Miller with a chance to earn the Bombers’ 13th World Series title.

Ford, as a rookie, went a sterling 9-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 1950 – finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting to the Red Sox’ Walt Dropo.

The Yankees were defending champions, after taking the ’49 series against cross-town rival Brooklyn under new manager Casey Stengel.

Ford might not have had Game 7 pressure on him, with the Yankees’ three-game cushion, but nonetheless the rookie faced a daunting task at the age of 21. And while it didn’t hurt to have future Hall of Famers like Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Mize on his side, Ford was fearless every time he toed the rubber.

10-7-09-Lawrence_Ford.jpg“He was my banty rooster,” said Stengel. “He used to puff his chest out, like this, and walk out to the mound against any of those big pitchers.”

Despite that “rooster” persona, Ford was a pensive pitcher who chose deception over brute force. Ford promptly demoralized the Phils on Oct. 7, twirling 8.2 innings of brilliant baseball – giving up only two unearned runs.

A native of New York City, Ford went on to those record-setting 10 World Series wins as well as a fantastic postseason ERA of 2.71.

Ford not only owned October in the win column, but the 20th century as well. His 236-106 record makes him the most consistent victor — among pitchers with at least 200 wins — during those years, with a .690 winning percentage.

10-7-09-Lawrence_NYYSeriesChart.jpg“I don’t care what the situation was, how high the stakes were… it never bothered Whitey Ford,” said Yankee great Mickey Mantle. “He pitched his game. Cool. Crafty. Nerves of steel.”

In fact, Ford harnessed those “nerves of steel” to toss 33 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play, another signature “Chairman” mark. Ford also had seven complete games in the Classic, good for fifth all-time, and was part of six Yankees championship teams.

Ford was welcomed into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1974.

Thomas Lawrence was the 2009 publications intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

1 Comment

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