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This Day in Yankees History: Whitey Ford shoves it

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A Yankees legend makes two successful Fall Classic starts

Whitey Ford... Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. Even with the start of the 2020 season, the Pinstripe Alley team has decided to continue the revived program in its new format. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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The history of the New York Yankees is a history of sluggers - Babe Ruth through Mickey Mantle through Aaron Judge. The team’s called the Bronx Bombers, not the Bronx throwers, and although they’ve produced notable pitchers - Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte, and a who’s who of great relievers - perhaps the only arm to ascend to mythic status for the team is Whitey Ford, who spent 16 years in the Bronx and won six titles en route to the Hall of Fame.

59 Years Ago

Most of that mythic status came by way of his World Series performances, including two on consecutive October 4ths. First, in 1961, Ford took the mound for the opener of the Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds. Ford would win his only Cy Young in 1961, despite at least narratively being overshadowed by Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris chasing down Babe Ruth’s single season home run record.

Entering Game One, Whitey had thrown two consecutive postseason shutouts, posting blanks in games three and six of the 1960 World Series. He matched those efforts against the Reds, allowing just two hits in a complete-game clean sheet, with six strikeouts against just one walk. The Yankees had finished the season 16 wins better than the Reds, and the disparity showed. Ford would then pitch five more shutout innings in Game Four.

58 Years Ago

However, all good things must end, and on the next October 4th, Ford finally surrendered a run in the World Series for the first time since 1958. Willie Mays raced home on a squeeze play in the second inning, and just like that, Ford’s 33.2 scoreless inning streak was over. He held on to win the game, going nine and allowing just two.

The Yankees did end up winning the series in seven games, but October 4th would be the last of Ford’s record 10 Fall Classic wins. He pitched twice more in this series, then three more times in the next two seasons, and took the loss in all five games.

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We thank Baseball-Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.