Year Inducted: 1974 (BBWAA, ballot #2, 284/365)
The Yankees easily have the most Hall of Famers. Players like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth would have been Hall of Famers regardless of their teams, however. But, there have been a lot of players already covered here that wouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame had they not been on the Yankees during some of their glory years. Mostly, it’s been their pitchers. Pitchers like Red Ruffing, Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt weren’t really among the greatest pitchers in history. In fact, only four pitchers for the Yanks can really be argued as to truly deserving of the induction. Jack Chesbro was a star of the early years, Goose Gossage was one of the greatest closers ever, and Lefty Gomez was a great pitcher in the 1930’s. But, who was the greatest pitcher to ever toe the rubber for the Yanks? Without a doubt, it must be Whitey Ford.
Ford pitched his entire 16-year career in the Bronx, and was on some of the greatest Yankee teams in history. Ford broke into the league in 1950, served two years in Korea, then was back to the bigs to stay. The Chairman of the Board tossed over 3100 innings, winning 236 games against only 106 losses (with the greatest winning percentage ever) and put up an ERA of 2.75. “Slick” struck out slightly less than 2000 men in his career (missing two prime years will do that) while, like many of the third generation pitchers, issuing his fair share of walks (1086). Ford was the model of consistency in his career. Only 4 times did Ford ever post an ERA above 3.00, and only twice did he have an FIP above league average.
What made Ford such a great pitcher was the fact that he did so much with so little. Not possessing the hard fastball of Bob Feller, or the strong curveball of Sandy Koufax, Ford just went out and shut down opposing hitters, with a WHIP of only 1.22 and a batting average against of .237. Ford’s ERA- of 75 is incredible and his FIP- of 88 is very good, considering that he wasn’t a strikeout pitcher.
The only real knock on Ford, besides the walks, was that from 1950-1960 (ie when Stengel was his manager), only three times did he make 30 or more starts in a season. HE compensated for this slightly by being used often in relief (60 career relief appearances), but the lack of starts affected a lot of his counting stats (like his strikeouts and his wins), and as such a lot of milestone numbers were just a little too far away for him to reach. That’s probably why Ford didn’t get inducted on his first ballot by the BBWAA. Ford had some years where he struggled with shoulder issues, so he had to have his usage curbed a bit, but that shouldn’t take away from one of the greatest pitchers of all-time.
Stay tuned for the next updates.
On deck 11/15/16:
#71- This pitcher was the career leader in K/9 for a long time, and pitched at the same time as Cy Young.
#70- This outfield star once got ejected from both ends of a double header.