When it came to winning, Ford led the way

October 9th, 2020

was the Yankees' biggest winner when they did much of their biggest winning.

Ford compiled a club-record 236 victories in 1950 and '53-67. New York secured 11 American League pennants and six World Series triumphs during those 16 seasons. Ford established numerous World Series pitching records at a time when the Major Leagues' postseason consisted entirely of the Fall Classic.

Here's a look at some of the particulars of Ford's Yankees tenure.

1. Zeroes after zeroes

Ford began establishing his most significant standard in the 1960 World Series, when he twice shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates. That launched a streak of 33 consecutive scoreless World Series innings that included a pair of wins in the '61 Series against Cincinnati. For that effort, Ford was named the Fall Classic's Most Valuable Player. The Giants ended Ford's wizardry by scratching across a second-inning run in the '62 Series opener. Ford nevertheless pitched a complete-game 6-2 victory.

2. Autumn ace

Performing for the highly successful Yankees enabled Ford to set Series records for wins (10), losses (eight), starts (22), innings (146), hits (132), walks (34) and strikeouts (94). He was two weeks shy of 22 years old when he won his Series debut, a 5-2 decision in Game 4 of the Yankees' sweep over the Phillies in 1950.

3. Putting their best arm forward

Here's another of Ford's accomplishments that's unlikely to be matched: He's the only starter to work eight World Series openers: 1955-58 and '61-64. He's also the lone starter to receive four consecutive Series-opening assignments, which happened twice.

4. King of the hill
1953, '55, '59-60, '64

Though Ford lacked an overpowering fastball, he performed feats typically associated with power pitchers. In September 1955, he pitched one-hitters in back-to-back starts (the outings were separated by a relief appearance in which he recorded a save) against Washington and Kansas City. He also won eight 1-0 decisions scattered among the years cited above.

5. Spot starting

Ford possessed the qualities of an ace, but he never shouldered a No. 1 starter's workload during the first half of his career. Yankees manager Casey Stengel wanted to save Ford for the team's biggest rivals, such as Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. As a result, Ford started 30 games or more in just three of his first eight full seasons. Meanwhile, he made 86 of his 225 starts against the White Sox and Indians from 1953-60, compared to 139 against the other five AL clubs during that span.

6. Finally, in a rotation

When Ralph Houk succeeded Stengel as the Yankees' manager following the 1960 season, he vowed to get Ford regular work. Sure enough, Ford made a career-high 39 starts in '61, followed by four consecutive seasons of at least 36 starts.

7. Stopping them in their tracks

Ford set a Major League record by pitching 243 consecutive innings without allowing a stolen base. This reaffirmed that the "Chairman of the Board," as Ford was nicknamed, rarely beat himself.

8. Rare ability
1950, '53-67

Ford's 2.75 career ERA is the third best in the Integration Era (since 1947). It's eclipsed only by the 2.43 ERA belonging to Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw through the 2020 season and Hoyt Wilhelm's 2.52 mark.

9. Honor roll
1954-56, '58-64

Ford entrenched himself among the game's elite by leading the league in a major statistical category or making an All-Star team every year during this stage. He was a 10-time All-Star, tops in victories and winning percentage three times and the AL's leader in ERA and shutouts twice. He also won the AL Cy Young Award in 1961.

10. On to Cooperstown

Ford gained election to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility as he captured 77.8 percent of the vote (75 percent is needed for induction). That was up from the 67.1 percent he received in 1973, his first year on the ballot.