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 at age 91, per the AP. A family member said Ford died at his Long Island home Thursday night. The cause wasn't known. Nicknamed the "Chairman of the Board," Ford was a wily left-hander who pitched from 1950 to 1967 in the major leagues, all with the Yankees. He was among the most dependable pitchers in baseball history, winning 236 games and losing just 106—a winning percentage of .690. He would help symbolize the almost machinelike 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 postseason.
The World Series record book is crowded with Ford's accomplishments. His string of 33 consecutive scoreless innings from 1960 to 1962 broke a record set by Babe Ruth. Ford also holds World Series records for games and starts (22), innings pitched (146), wins (10), and strikeouts (94). Ford wasn't an overpowering pitcher: Instead, he depended on guile and guts. He'd throw overhand sometimes, three-quarters other times, mixing curves and sliders in with his fastball and change-up. To catcher Elston Howard, Ford was the "Chairman of the Board," a nickname that fit Ford's role at the top of the Yankees' pitching staff. Teammate Mickey Mantle summed it up: "He was the best pitcher I ever saw, and the greatest competitor. Whitey won seven out of every 10 decisions, and nobody in the history of baseball has ever done better than that." More on his life and career here.
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