Precisely 60 years prior to he died on Thursday night time at age 91, Whitey Ford pitched a shutout within the International Sequence. It was once the beginning of a scoreless streak that stretched 33⅔ innings, topping Babe Ruth for the longest in International Sequence historical past.
But Ford by no means believed he will have to had been pitching on Oct. Eight, 1960, in Sport Three at Yankee Stadium in opposition to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On the time, Ford was once a six-time All-Megastar on his approach to changing into the group’s profession chief in victories, with 236. He was once the Yankees’ ace, and aces have been intended to begin Video games 1, Four and seven.
Casey Stengel, who had controlled Ford for a decade, had different plans. For the opener on the Pirates’ comfy Forbes Box, Stengel began Artwork Ditmar, a right-hander who had a robust season however who had by no means began within the International Sequence. Stengel sought after to avoid wasting the left-handed Ford for the primary recreation in Yankee Stadium, with its cavernous left-center box.
Ford would thrive in each places, following up his Sport Three shutout within the Bronx with one in Pittsburgh whilst going through removing in Sport 6. However the latter effort left him unavailable for Sport 7, when the Pirates scored off 5 Yankees pitchers in a 10-Nine triumph. It was once the ultimate recreation Stengel ever controlled for the Yankees, and he by no means lived down his choice.
“Whitey’s like Bob Gibson,” stated Bobby Richardson, the Yankees’ 2d baseman on the time, by means of telephone a couple of days in the past, simply after Gibson had died. “They have been other pitchers, in fact, however either one of them have been captains of the group, so as to talk. They’re those you pitched in opposition to the harsh warring parties.
“Stengel’s excuse was once it’s a small ballpark in Pittsburgh. However Whitey pitched his two shutouts, and had he been in a position to move 3, I’m positive it might had been a unique ballgame.”
The Pirates have been simply as perplexed because the Yankees gamers, however so much happier to look Ford handiest two times.
“We questioned about it, and so did the gamers at the Yankee group — they couldn’t perceive Stengel,” Pirates catcher Hal Smith, who hit a game-turning homer off Jim Coates within the finale, stated in an interview in a while prior to his loss of life in January. “He had a large number of ability on that membership, but if it got here to converting pitchers and issues, he wasn’t too sensible.”
Stengel was once sharp sufficient to win seven titles in 10 tries, however in standard lore, it was once the 1960 blunder that value him his task — even if the Yankees have been in reality simply longing for a more youthful supervisor with much less authority over workforce. Ford felt unhealthy that Stengel was once fired, in step with his autobiography, “Slick,” written with Phil Pepe in 1987. However he fumed over the International Sequence slight.
“It was once the one time I ever were given mad at Casey,” Ford wrote, whilst insisting, like Richardson, that he would have gained 3 begins if given the risk. “I used to be so frustrated at Stengel, I wouldn’t communicate to him at the airplane experience again to New York.”
Changing the 70-year-old Stengel with Ralph Houk, who was once 41, gave the Yankees’ dynasty a last, four-year burst atop the American League — and helped Ford to his absolute best season.
Persuaded by means of a brand new pitching trainer, Johnny Sain, Houk used Ford ceaselessly on 3 days’ leisure in 1961, as an alternative of 4 or extra, as Stengel had completed. Ford answered together with his absolute best season: a 25-Four document and his handiest Cy Younger Award.
The Yankees completed in first position once more, and that point Ford did get started the International Sequence opener, shutting out the Cincinnati Reds with a two-hitter. He added 5 scoreless innings to win Sport Four prior to leaving with a sore foot, and was once named most dear participant after the Yankees prevailed in 5 video games.
“This wasn’t precisely a brand new revel in for me,” Ford wrote. “But it surely was once the most productive. The tip of a nearly easiest 12 months.”
Ford’s October magic quickly ran out; he gained the 1962 opener in opposition to the San Francisco Giants, however misplaced his ultimate 4 International Sequence begins and not did pitch in a Sport 7. He dabbled in trickery to live to tell the tale in later years, throwing spitballs and mudballs. He additionally wore a personalized ring to the mound, disguising it beneath a Band-Support, and used a rasp to scuff the ball.
Via then, regardless that, Ford was once so achieved that umpires refused to embarrass him.
“There was once one time when Whitey was once scuffing up the ball and the umpire got here out, and he knew,” Jim Bouton, a fellow Yankees pitcher within the 1960s who died ultimate summer season, stated in an interview a number of years in the past. “I fail to remember who it was once, however he was once a kind of old-timer guys who’s now not going to be a smart man or a large shot — that is Whitey Ford, he’s one of the most greats. A specific amount of recognize is due.
“So he went to the mound and the dialog went, ‘Uh, Whitey, I see the hoop there. I let you know what, what you want to do is name day out and move in and alter your jock strap. And whilst you come again, don’t have the hoop on.’”
Ford printed his strategies in his e book, revealed greater than a decade after his election to the Corridor of Status for a towering profession that spanned Yankees generations. In Ford’s debut in 1950, Joe DiMaggio performed middle box; in his ultimate recreation, in 1967, Joe Pepitone performed there. (Mickey Mantle was once to start with base.) On a workforce during which maximum pitchers took transient big name turns and went on their approach — Don Larsen, Bob Turley, Ralph Terry, Bouton — Ford was once the mainstay.
He holds just about each and every International Sequence document for pitching longevity, and no one else is shut. Ford’s 22 begins are 9 greater than the full for Andy Pettitte, who ranks 2d. He labored 146 innings; Christy Mathewson would want 5 extra entire video games to most sensible him.
But Ford’s won-lost document, like that of maximum aces, underscores simply how laborious it’s, in any technology, to win ceaselessly in October. The Yankees gained six International Sequence with Ford, however misplaced 5 others. His 2.71 International Sequence earned run moderate was once nearly just like his regular-season mark (2.75), however his document was once a modest 10-Eight.
There are exceptions — like Gibson, who was once 7-2 in Sequence video games — however many pitching greats have had in a similar way blended postseason effects. Mathewson was once Five-Five, Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax Four-Three, Steve Carlton 6-6, Tom Seaver Three-Three. More moderen masters have had equivalent good fortune: Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina had dropping postseason data, Clayton Kershaw is 11-11, and Justin Verlander, whilst dominant in playoff rounds, is Zero-6 within the International Sequence.
Likewise, debatable pitching selections are not anything new. The Yankees stated that Ford died at house, in Lake Luck, N.Y., surrounded by means of circle of relatives whilst observing his outdated group win a playoff recreation in opposition to the Tampa Bay Rays. Possibly the Fords have been additionally observing two nights previous, when some other Yankees supervisor, Aaron Boone, made a contemporary model of Stengel’s curious name by means of the use of an opener as an alternative of a standard starter in Sport 2.
The Yankees misplaced that recreation, simply as they misplaced Ditmar’s begins in 1960, however the pitching strikes, in fact, have been handiest a part of the rationale. The Yankees most likely nonetheless will have to have gained Sport 7 in Pittsburgh, and whilst Mantle cried within the dugout after Invoice Mazeroski’s clinching homer — “He simply felt like we had a greater group and we had misplaced it, and he was once simply in reality unhappy,” Richardson stated — few lovers generally tend to shed tears for the Yankees. Their historical past is simply too wealthy to reside at the unhappy portions.
So it’s with the scoop of Ford’s loss of life, which is much less a purpose for mourning than a possibility to rejoice a profession that integrated just about the whole thing a glass may need, even with out an additional get started in 1960.