Whitey Ford, the street-smart New Yorker who had the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the 20th century and helped the Yankees become baseball's perennial champions in the 1950s and '60s, has died. He was 91.
Ford died at his Long Island home on Thursday night. The cause was not known.
Edward Charles Ford, known as "Whitey" because of his blond hair, would have turned 92 on October 21.
Nicknamed the "Chairman of the Board," he was a wily left-hander who pitched from 1950-67 in the major leagues, all with the Yankees. He was among the most dependable pitchers in the game's history.
He won 236 games and lost just 106 - a winning percentage of .690. He would help symbolise the almost machine-like efficiency of the Yankees in the mid-20th century, when only twice between Ford's rookie year and 1964 did they fail to make the post-season.
Ford's death is the latest this year of a number of baseball greats: Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson.
The World Series record book is crowded with Ford's accomplishments. His string of 33 consecutive scoreless innings from 1960-62 broke a record of 29 2-3 innings set by Babe Ruth. Ford still holds records for World Series games and starts (22), innings pitched (146), wins (10) and strikeouts (94).
Ford's best seasons came in 1961 and 1963, in the midst of a stretch of five straight AL pennants for the Yankees, when new manager Ralph Houk began using a four-man rotation instead of five.
Ford led the league in victories with 25 in 1961, won the Cy Young Award and was the World Series MVP after winning two more games against Cincinnati. In 1963, he went 24-7, again leading the league in wins. Eight of his victories that season came in June.
He also led the AL in earned run average in 1956 (2.47) and 1958 (2.01) and was a six-time All-Star selection.
After his retirement, Ford briefly worked as a broadcaster and opened a restaurant in Garden City, "Whitey Ford's Cafe," that closed within a year.
In 2001, actor Anthony Michael Hall played Ford in the Billy Crystal-directed HBO movie "61*" about the 1961 season and the quest of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to break Babe Ruth's single-year home run record.