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Remembering Edward “Whitey” Ford

October 10, 2020

He was 91, lived a good life and was a great pitcher, however, the wave of greats dying is a bit much–Whitey Ford at 91, the latest, he being one of the greatest.

His .690 win percentage (236-106) is the greatest for any pitcher during the twentieth century and he won a record 10 World Series games (so many reports left out the fact he also lost the most. Why?!!).

Certainly, it only slightly diminishes, if that, Ford’s greatness, as he was on 6 Yankees’ title teams and 10 pennant winners.

It is often written that 1961 was a bad year for the “Babe,” (the great Ruth) even though he had been dead for 13 years (13 is an unlucky #), as first Roger Maris, with a famed asterisk ruling, once explained by Dick Van Dyke as “Rob Petrie” on the Carl Reiner (another great we lost in 2020) created, “Dick Van Dyke Show,” broke his single season home run mark and then Whitey broke the Babe’s World Series consecutive scoreless innings mark.

I could “Chairman of the Board” it or cite his friendship with Mickey Mantle, with whom he went into the “Hall,” when that really meant something, back in 1974.

Instead I recall Joe Green, my friend, who praised me for helping my mother when she got (supposedly) very ill, telling me he and Jack Molinas marveled at the Sandy Koufax vs Whitey Game 1, ’63 W.S. matchup. They were in a horrible human creation, called jail, at the time. They had committed no violent acts, yet as with so many they were caged.

’63 #1 was also discussed in the great movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” as Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy queried “who do you like in the opener?”

My best praise for Whitey is twofold. One is I had a nice interview with him at a golf event, I guess still promoted by Phil Rizzuto to benefit St. Joseph’s School For The Blind in New Jersey. Whitey was all class, friendly and forthright.

The aforementioned Green and the certainly unsavory, but brilliant Molinas were where they were for bribing players. Even with those bribes in, often the results did not go their way. Not great stuff and Joe warned me of the evils of gambling. Now baseball teams promote it, all the while excluding Pete Rose from the “Hall.”

That is as with jail, “cruel and unusual punishment.” An aside: Whitey gave Pete the nickname “Charlie Hustle,” as the latter played the game right and great.

My final praise and it applies to so many Whitey Ford games (25-4 in ’61, 24-7 in ’63–he did lose twice to Sandy in the World Series, allowing but 2 hits in the second loss) is #6 of the ’60 World Series.

Joe Green was not a big bettor but he put up 1300 to win a “thou” (cue that “animal” H.S. Gross) on Whitey Ford. He always told the story as ON Whitey Ford not the Yankees.

Whitey, I hope you and Joe have a muffin and share some stories up there. If it is heaven, there probably is no need for money, but it will be Joe’s treat, as you earned it, Whitey!

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