by Harold Friend
Kris Burmen has always known that Whitey Ford is a terribly overrated pitcher. He has some facts to support his contention.
Whitey Ford was the Chairman of the Board. He was the pitching ace that New York Yankees' manager Casey Stengel saved to face the other contenders.
Instead of starting Ford against the doormat Washington Senators or the lowly Kansas City Athletics, Casey often gave Ford an extra day of rest in order to use him against the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, or Detroit Tigers.
Ask any Yankees' fan why Ford never was a 20-game winner while Stengel managed the Yankees, and she will tell you that Ford started fewer games than other starters.
From 1953, which was his first full season, through 1956, Ford averaged 30 starts a season.
He finished third among American League starting pitchers, behind Frank Sullivan (35), and Bullet Bob Turley (34), with 33 starts in 1955.
During those four years, Ford averaged 225 innings a season.
Don't tell me he didn't win 20 games because of a limited workload. We know why he didn't win 20 games.
In 1957, Ford had physical problems. He started only 17 games, pitched 129 and one-third innings, and won 11 games.
During Stengel's last three years at the helm of the Yankees, Ford averaged 33 starts and 205 innings pitched.
He won only 42 games, for an average of 14 a season.
Ralph Houk Takes Over
After the disastrous (for the Yankees) 1960 World Series, Casey Stengel was fired.
Ralph Houk took over, and he asked Ford if he could pitch every fourth day. Ford told Houk he could, and he did, but don't jump to conclusions.
Ford won 25 games in 1961, but that only scratches the surface.
He had a 3.21 ERA, which was the highest of his career at the time. His ERA+ was only 117. The year before, when he won a mere 12 games, his ERA+ had been 116.
Until he was on one of the great teams of all time, the team that had an offense powered by Roger Maris hitting 61 home runs to set a single season record that still stands, and Mickey Mantle, who blasted a career-high 54 home runs, Whitey Ford had never won 20 games in a season.
The following year, Ford's win total dropped to 17.
In 1963, which might have been his best regular season, he won 24 games, posted a 2.74 ERA, and had a 128 ERA+.
Now we get to the clincher.
The Yankees played a seventh game of the World Series seven times during Ford's tenure.
The Chairman of the Board never, repeat, never started an "ultimate" game.
In 1950, Whitey Ford, an arrogant rookie, ran into Dizzy Dean before the fourth game of the World Series. The Yankees, behind Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Steady Eddie Lopat, had won the first three games.
Ford was taking batting practice when Dean walked over.
"Hiya, Diz," responded Ford, who continued.
"These Phillies are so easy that I now can understand how you could win so many games in the National League."
Ford won the fourth game, and the Yankees had their sweep.
The Yankees beat the New York Giants in 1951 in six games. Ford was defending freedom and unavailable to pitch.
In 1952, the Series went seven games, but Whitey had not yet returned.
The following year, Ford was back, but there was no seventh game in the World Series as the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in six games.
In 1955, Ford started Game Six against Brooklyn. Stengel tapped Tommy Byrne to pitch the seventh game.
In 1956, rookie right hander Johnny Kucks started the seventh game against Brooklyn's Don Newcombe.
In 1957, the Milwaukee Braves' Lew Burdette, a former Yankee, started against Don Larsen in game seven.
In 1958, Burdette faced Larsen again in game seven. It was in that Series that Warren Spahn, possibly the greatest of all left-handers, soundly out-pitched Ford in games one and four.
In 1960, it was Bob Turley facing the Pittsburgh Pirates' Vern Law.
In 1962, Ralph Houk started Ralph Terry against the San Francisco Giants' Jack Sanford.
In 1964, Ford had to leave the first game with a sore arm, and it was rookie Mel Stottlemyre, on two days' rest, starting against the St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson in the deciding contest
Yankees' fans can create any excuses they want. They can sing the praises of "clutch' pitcher Whitey Ford. That is fine, but the fact remains.
Whitey Ford never started an "ultimate" game. He never started a seventh game of a World Series.
By ARTHUR DALEY. (1967, May 31). Sports of The Times :The Chairman Retires. New York Times (1923-Current file),31. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 83122394).