One of the greatest players ever to don pinstripes, and surely the greatest pitcher, Whitey Ford died Thursday night surrounded by family at his home in Lake Success, just days shy of his 92nd birthday, watching the Yankees beat Tampa to tie the playoff series.
The future Chairman of the Board grew up rooting for the Yanks, born in Manhattan and moving as a youngster to Astoria, where he developed his pitching chops playing for the 34th Street Boys sandlot team.
“I’m just a kid from Queens,” the lefty ace-of-aces told Post sports columnist Mike Vaccaro in 2005. “If I hadn’t had a break or two along the way, I’d have been the guy asking for autographs and pictures all these years.”
Instead, he became best buddies with fellow Yankee and man-about-town Mickey Mantle, and the pair entered the Hall of Fame together in 1974. (He didn’t live too crazily, though: Ford’s wife of 69 years, Joan, was at his side when he died.)
No. 16 spent his entire 16-year career in pinstripes, after being signed out of high school in 1947 for $7,000 and making his major-league debut in 1950.
His record of 236-106 makes him the Yankees’ all-time wins leader — despite losing two prime years, 1951 and ’52, in the Army during the Korean War. The 10-time All-Star was a member of six World Series championship teams and still holds key Fall Classic records, including wins (10), consecutive scoreless innings (33.0) and strikeouts (94).
Now he’s throwing fastballs up in the sandlot in the sky. RIP, Whitey Ford.
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