New York Yankees: The 5 Greatest Yankees of All-Time

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4.  Whitey Ford  

Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford earns the #4 spot because he embodied the idea of being a New York Yankee in every sense. Arguably, he is also one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Finally, Ford is a native New Yorker, hailing from Astoria, Queens, and spent his entire 16-year career with the Yankees; A true city boy. While he isn’t from the Bronx originally, we won’t hold that against him.

Fun fact:  according to an article in the Queens Courier, Ford earned the nickname “Whitey” while playing in the minors for his nearly white, blonde hair. Now, back to business. His legacy as a Yankee began the minute he stepped on to the field. He made his debut in 1950 against the Yankees’ biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox. The future Ace not only went on to win that game, but won his first nine starts. This accomplishment set a record that would not be beaten until 2006, by the Los Angeles Angels’ Jared Weaver. His impressive 9-1 record as a rookie only served as part of the campaign that made Ford a full-fledged star.

Ford received the call to pitch Game 4 of the World Series that year against the Philadelphia Phillies. At that time, the Yankees were already up 3-0 in the series. The young prospect shut out the Phillies through the ninth inning of Game 4, leading the Yankees to a 5-2 victory, and sweeping the Phillies to win the World Series.  That start alone could place Ford on this list, but that is just the beginning of the story.

If winning the World Series as a rookie was not honorable enough, Ford missed the next two seasons to serve in the Army during the Korean War. However, when he rejoined the team in 1953, he finished with an 18-6 record and emerged as the Yankees’ Ace. Not an easy feat in a pitching staff than included talented pitchers such as Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat.

By the end of his career, Ford had been selected to the all-star game eight times, won a Cy Young Award, led the league in wins three times (1955, 1961, 1963), and had been named World Series MVP. Again, and the Hall of Famer’s numbers and accolades certainly support his spot here, but it is also his character and his part in history that make it seem more appropriate. For example, Ford’s best season came in 1961, when Roger Maris set the home run hitting record. Maybe it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. For this fan, a guy who comes into the league, wins the World Series for his team as a rookie, leaves to fight a war, comes back, and has his best season during a year where the Yankees dominated the media, is rightfully one of the top five Yankees to ever play.

Next: Number 3