Yankees legend Whitey Ford, an Astoria native, dead at 91

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REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, arguably the New York Yankees’ greatest franchise pitcher, passed away at the age of 91 on Thursday night on his Long Island home.

His cause of death has not yet been announced.

Known as the pressure thriving and slick “Chairman of the Board” during many of his sixteen seasons throwing for the Bombers from 1950 to 1967, Ford’s accomplishments in pinstripes are fantasies to even the most outstanding pitchers of the modern day.

He was a six time World Series champion, 1961 Cy Young winner and World Series MVP, plus a ten time all star who put his major league career on hold to fight in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1951-1952.

The great number 16 also surpassed the consecutive scoreless World Series innings record previously held by Babe Ruth during the Bambino’s time with the Boston Red Sox.

A city boy through and through, Ford was born in Manhattan October 21, 1928 and grew up in Astoria, Queens, later graduating the Manhattan High School of Aviation Trades – so naturally the Yankees signed Whitey as an amateur free agent in 1947.

The lefty, fastball and curve-style pitcher had a particularly fond friendship with outfielder Mickey Mantle during his playing career and a similar rapport with manager Billy Martin.

It was fitting that both Whitey and the Mick were inducted into Cooperstown in 1974, Ford earning 77 percent of votes on his second ballot; he was immortalized in Monument Park on August 1, 1987.

Whitey briefly broadcasted for the Yankees upon his retirement from baseball, playing into a running joke that he and Mantle were ‘broke’ and needed jobs.

City Councilman Costa Constantinides, who represents the neighborhood Ford grew up in, shared his condolences Friday.

“Today, New York City lost one of Astoria’s proudest sons and one of the greatest Yankees of all time. Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford represented the best of this hard-working community, where kids of modest means can grow up to be legends,” Constantinides said. “That legacy will live on every time an Astoria kid swings a bat at Whitey Ford Field and when every Yankee dons the pinstripes. As an Astoria native and a proud Yankees fan, my heart is heavy today. I want to send my deepest condolences to Whitey Ford’s family, who I’ve had the honor to get to know in recent years.”

As fate would have it, Ford passed just two days after Deivi Garcia surpassed Ford as the Yankees youngest ever playoff starter on Tuesday.

As if the Yankees needed anymore motivation ahead of tonight’s winner take all ALDS Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays, now it’s time to win one for Whitey.

This story originally appeared on amny.com