Good bye to the Chairman

Whitey Ford

During all the problems developing in my life I failed to note here the loss of “The Chairman of the Board.” Whitey Ford died recently. He was the last great link to the New York Yankee dynasty of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Of the great pitchers of my youth, Ford was unique. He was the only one in the American League. Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, and Juan Marichal were all National Leaguers. And before them so were Warren Spahn and Don Newcombe. I really don’t remember Bob Lemon and Early Wynn was always, to me, an afterthought. Ford, on the other hand, was impossible to miss. Back in the mid-to late 1950s there were two games on Saturday, one on CBS, the other on NBC. You could almost guarantee the Yankees would be on one game. That meant your chances of seeing Ford work were pretty good.

He thrived under two managers who used him very differently. Casey Stengel, his 1950s manager, tended to hold Ford for big games rather than establish him in something like a modern rotation. Ralph Houk, on the other hand, put him in the rotation and Ford began putting up “ace” numbers (wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, etc.) and eventually picked up an early Cy Young Award (1961-back when there was only one award, not one in each league).

He was also unique in another way. The Dodgers were are great team in the 1960s because they had Drysdale and Koufax. The same was true for the Cardinals and Gibson. Marichal was part of a trio (Mays, McCovey) that made the Giants contenders. Ford, on the other hand, was part of a machine that spewed talent in every direction. That made him, in some ways, less renowned. He was just part of the Yankees. That’s kind of a shame, because he was more than “just part” of the best team of his era.

He made the Hall of Fame in 1974, along with Mickey Mantle (who overshadowed Ford because he Mantle). Yogi Berra was already enshrined there. It was a fitting conclusion to his career.

So adios to Whitey Ford, who, as “Chairman of the Board,” had one of the great nicknames of the era. RIP.

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One Response to “Good bye to the Chairman”

  1. Precious Sanders Says:

    It’s been such a rough year for baseball deaths. Thanks, 2020.

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