Whitey Ford, legendary pitcher for the New York Yankees during the 1950s and 1960s, died on Thursday night, a family member said to the Associated Press. He was 91 years old. Ford died at his Long Island home, and the cause of death is unknown.
Nicknamed the "Chairman of the Board," Ford was one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball history. He spent his entire career with the Yankees (1950-1967) and won 236 games. Ford knew how to pitch in the biggest games, holding World Series records for most starts (22), innings pitched (146), wins (10) and strikeouts (94). Ford helped the Yankees win six World Series in his career and was named World Series MVP in 1961.
Ford's best seasons in the Majors were in 1961 and 1963. Along with leading the Yankees to a World Series win in 1961, Ford led the league in victories with 25, which resulted in him winning the Cy Young Award. In 1963 he posted a 24-7 record, leading the league in wins again. In a 1987 interview with Phil Pepe, Ford talked about what he needed to do in order to say on top of his game.
"If there are some pitchers doing it and getting away with it, that’s fine by me," he said. "If it were me and I needed to cheat to be able to throw the good stuff that would keep me in the major leagues at a salary of about $800,000 a year, I'd do whatever I had to do." Ford was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974 with his Yankees teammate Mickey Mantle. Out of all the things Ford accomplished in his career, he noted going into the Hall of Fame was on top but was more special since Mantle joined him.
"It never was anything I imagined was possible or anything I dared dream about when I was a kid growing up on the sidewalks of New York," Ford wrote in his autobiography. "I never really thought I would make it as a kid because I always was too small." Ford was born in New York City and signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1947. He made his debut in 1950 and won his first nine decisions.