Sunday, October 11, 2020
We learned that Whitey Ford passed away a couple of days ago. He was 91 and remembered as "The Chairman of the Board" for his businesslike approach to pitching and winning championships.Back in 1961, Whitey Ford broke Babe Ruth's record of pitching consecutive World Series shutout innings a couple of weeks after watching Roger Maris break Babe Ruth's season home run record. He responded by telling a reporter that "it's been a bad year for the Babe."
Sadly, it's been a bad year for Cooperstown, and it's only mid-October.
Al Kaline died on April 6. Over 22 seasons with the Tigers, the 18-time All-Star collected 3,007 hits, hit 399 home runs, and had a .297 career batting average. I saw him a couple of times when the Tigers came to town, and he was one of my favorites.
Tom Seaver died on August 31. He was a 12-time All-Star, won 311 games with a 2.86 ERA, and had 3,640 strikeouts. I never saw him in person but saw a lot of Seaver on TV. I recall a family friend from New York who told my parents that she never missed a Seaver start with the Mets.
Lou Brock died on September 6. He retired with a .304 batting average, 3,023 hits, 1,610 runs, 900 RBI, and 938 steals — a record that stood until 1991. I remember watching him a lot on TV because we always lived in an American League town.
Bob Gibson died on October 2. He died on the 52nd anniversary of his classic 1968 game, when he struck out 17 Tigers. Over 17 years with the Cardinals, he won 251 victories, 3,117 strikeouts, 56 shutouts, and an ERA of 2.91. I saw lots of Gibson on TV, and he was the greatest in my book.
And Whitey Ford on October 8. Ford retired with a 236-106 record and a .690 winning percentage. It is still the best among modern pitchers with at least 150 victories. In the World Series or the only postseason back then, Ford was 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA. He set a record with 33 1/3 shutout innings and was named MVP of the 1961 World Series. I did not watch him on TV until the tail end of his career, and he was not the Whitey Ford that my late father used to talk about.
I think Whitey Ford must be looking down and agreeing with me that it's been a bad year for the Hall.