The money pitcher on the great Yankee squads of the 1950s and 1960s, Ford's record of of 236-106 gives him the best winning percentage (.690) of any 20th century pitcher. He appeared in 11 World Series, and still holds many World Series records, including 10 wins and 94 strikeouts, once pitching 33 consecutive scoreless innings in the Fall Classic. He ranks first all-time in WS wins (10), losses (8), games and games started (22), innings pitched, hits, bases on balls, and strikeouts. In the 1960, '61, and '62 Series, he pitched 33 consecutive scoreless innings, breaking Babe Ruth's WS record of 29-2/3.
He had a terrific supporting cast, a great defense behind him, and he pitched in the ultimate pitcher's park, so Ford's career winning percentage and ERA should be taken with a bushel of salt. Still, the wily southpaw paced the American League in victories three times, and in ERA and shutouts twice. The 1961 Cy Young Award winner was a model of consistency - in 11 of his 16 seasons, he posted an ERA of below 3.00, and his high was 3.24. Always at his best when under pressure and in big games, he allowed an average of only 10.94 baserunners per nine innings and posted 45 career shutouts, including eight 1-0 victories.
Through 1960, Yankee manager Casey Stengel limited Ford's starts, often resting him at least four days between appearances, and aiming him for more frequent use against better teams. In 1961 new manager Ralph Houk put him in a regular four-man rotation, and Ford led the AL in starts (39) and innings pitched (283) and earned the Cy Young Award with a 25-4 record, leading the ML in wins and percentage. Two years later, he again led in wins, percentage, starts, and innings pitched, with a 24-7 mark.
He and longtime teammate Mickey Mantle were often seen together at popular New York nightclubs - they were inducted into the Hall of Fame together in 1974.
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete [Rose], I'd wear a dress."
- Mickey Mantle
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