Whitey Ford (True) Rookie Cards

Whitey Ford has one true rookie card. Card manufacturers skipped featuring him in any of their 1952 checklists but do feature him in their 1953 offerings. We’ll look at those too.

The Real Whitey Ford

John Sterling of YES Network says this of Whitey Ford, “He was born in Manhatten, grew up in Queens and became a Hall of Fame Legend in the Bronx. You can’t get more New Yorker than that.”

We’ll pick up his origins story as a senior at Aviation Tech High School. It was April 1946, and Ford attended a tryout hosted by the New York Yankees.

He tried out as a first baseman but a scout quickly told him he’s too small but did like his throwing arm. So he led Ford to the pitcher’s mound and taught him how to throw a curveball.

SABR.com says, Whitey’s real name is Edward Charles Ford, but because of his bleach-blond hair the nickname Whitey was given by Lefty Gomez, his minor league manager and it stuck.

Whitey Ford’s Impressive Debut

Whitey was honing his craft in the minors and halfway through the season, the Yankees found themselves contending for a playoff spot but they needed help in the rotation.

Ford was called up and debuted on July 1, 1950, in a game against the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t do very well but they stuck with him and coached him through it.

The 1950 season ended up looking pretty good for the young rookie, he finished with a 9-1 record along with 2 shutouts, 7 complete games, and 112 innings pitched. Exactly what the Yankees needed.

As fate would have it the Yankees made it to the World Series in 1950 and had a 3-0 lead in the series when Manager Casey Stengel put the rookie in as a Game 4 starter.

Whitey did not disappoint and had a no-hit shutout going into the 9th inning with 2 out. That’s when a flyball was hit to left field and the ball was dropped.

Manager Casey Stengal pulled him from that game and was severely criticized for it. Needless to say one out later the Yankees were World Series Champions.

I feel Whitey should have won Rookie of the Year honors but he came in second to Boston Red Sox first baseman Walt Dropo.

Wasn’t long after the World Series celebration was over, Whitey Ford was drafted into the Army. He embraced that opportunity with open arms and served in the military in 1951 & 1952, respectively.

I must say, this was a pretty impressive debut for the young Edward “Whitey” Ford.

Characteristics of Whitey Ford

The Yankees continued their winning ways during Ford’s absence, and when he returned from his military service the Yankees made him their #1 ace pitcher.

Physically, he was the little lefty from The Big Apple, arguably listed at 5’10” tall. His delivery had multiple arm angles, and he changed speeds a lot keeping batters off-balance.

He had the fastball, the change-up, and his best pitch, the curveball. His mental game was pure New Yorker.

Whitey Ford had incredible self-confidence, ambitious, cocky, but not arrogant. He loved competing in the big game, a real clutch performer. It was impossible for him to get rattled.

He was a thinking pitcher, knowing what pitch to throw to what batter. The leader in the clubhouse too. He was fun and always joking around keeping the guys loose.

Because he could control the ball and his emotions so well his teammates gave him the nickname the Chairman of the Board.

A Culture of Winning

During Whitey’s rookie season he became close friends with teammate Billy Martin. When he was drafted into the military Billy became close friends with another teammate, some guy named Mickey Mantle.

Upon Whitey’s return Billy introduced him to Mickey and the three became close friends. The Yankees continued their winning ways.

Incredible to fathom but the New York Yankees won World Series Championships for 6 of the 16 years Whitey pitched for them. By 1955 Whitey, Mantle & Billy had celebrity status everywhere they went.

If you hear crazy stories of their shenanigans, their probably true but something else is true. This dynamic trio showed up to play every day, game after game, year after year.

1961 was a magical year for Whitey too. It started with a new skipper, Ralph Houk, he replaced Casey Stengal as the new team manager. At the start of the season, he asked Whitey if he’d be willing to pitch every fourth game instead of every fifth? Whitey was thrilled to oblige!

He went 25-4 that season with 39 starts and 283 innings pitched earning him the Cy Young Award. Ford claims he was able to focus that year because the media was distracted by the Roger Maris / Mickey Mantle home run chase and breaking The Bambino’s record of 60.

The Yankees proceeded in their winning ways in 1961 and so did Whitey. The Yankees won another title that year and it was led by Whitey Ford as he earned World Series MVP too making 1961 his best season statistically.

Career & Accomplishments:

According to Baseball-Reference.com Whitey Ford career stats are:

Career Summary: Games 498 | Win-Lose 236-106 | ERA 2.75 | Innings Pitched 3,170 | Strikeouts 1,956.

Accomplishments:

  • 10x All-Star
  • 6x World Series Champion
  • 1x World Series MVP (1961)
  • 1x Cy Young (1961)
  • 2x ERA Title (1956 & 1958)
  • Hall of Fame Induction (1974)

Whitey Ford played for 16 seasons, all of them as a Yankee. He embodied what the New York Yankees are all about, success, dignity, and devotion to Yankee tradition.

He was the heart and soul of the Yankees and many baseball historians feel he was overshadowed by Mickey Mantle.

He’s the all-time winningest pitcher for the all-time winningest franchise in the history of baseball. Underrated and underappreciated except by his teammates and the record books.

Whitey Ford passed away on October 8, 2020, he was 91 years young.

Before We Begin

This post contains affiliate links through eBay Partner Networks, links are attached to (shop ebay) buttons. If you purchase anything, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support! For more info please see my Disclaimer here.


True Rookie Card

Identifier (RC) Defined

A rookie card is a trading card that is the first to feature an athlete AFTER that athlete has participated in the highest level of competition within his or her respected sport. It must be licensed by both the League and the Players Association. An RC identifier is only given to cards that fit this criteria. Below is an exhaustive list of the featured players true rookie cards.

1951 Bowman, #1 (RC)

Can you imagine, purchasing a pack of 1951 Bowman baseball for one cent? Each pack came with one baseball card and one stick of gum! For one penny! Cards 1-252 are considered the low series and 253-324 is considered the high series.

This set is a popular starting point for many collectors and here are the reasons why. Primarily, the set houses rookie cards for Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in the high series. In the low series, we can find the rookie card of Whitey Ford. However, Whitey’s rookie is card #1 in the set.

Having card #1 in the set makes it challenging to find good conditioned copies. Many believe set collectors, when organizing cards in numerical order, were a bit rough on that first card. Many are also known to have rubber band marks too.

Another feature of the 1951 set that drew the attention of collectors was its size. For the first three years, 1948-1950, Bowman created a 2-1/16″ x 2-1/2″ baseball card. In 1951 they went a bit larger measuring out at 2-1/16″ x 3-1/8″ so that makes this one 9/16″ taller than previous years.

The front card design is pure Americana Art. These were painted photos before going to the printing presses. This amazing portrait of our featured Hall of Famer is a stunner. Notice the blue clouds and the green fence in the background.

A black text box properly placed at the bottom features the name of Ford and the card back design offers player bio, commentary, on gray cardboard stock using red and blue ink.


Post-Rookie Theme

Identifier (PRT) Defined

The PRT identifier has a dual function. It’s used to identify cards that feature a player after their rookie season but in some way the card design has elements that feature a rookie theme. Also, for vintage, this identifier can be used for second year cards which are highly collectable, and often times preferred, but they are NOT true rookie cards.

1953 Bowman Color, #153 (PRT)

In 1952, Whitey Ford was proudly enlisted in the military so he did not play in the MLB. Therefore, no cards of him that year. However, the following cards are strong second year cards even though there issued in 1953.

By 1953 the Bowman company found itself in the trenches of a competitive war against newcomer Topps. Bowman ups the ante on the growingly popular 1952 Topps set and accepted the challenge by releasing a set that is considered one of the most beloved in the hobby.

One of the primary reasons collectors flocked to the 1952 Topps set is because of its size, coming in at a whopping 2-5/8″ x 3-3/4″ Bowman too increased the size to 2-1/2″ x 3-3/4″ respectively.

To help with marketing Bowman brought Joe DiMaggio out of retirement and pictured him on the wrapper. But perhaps the biggest change Bowman offered to collectors in 1953 Bowman Color is in the photography!

No other card manufacturer has ever offered collectors colored photography. Bowman hired top-notch photographers and the poses they had players make were memorable, to say the least. The photography in the 1953 Bowman Color is absolutely stunning!

To help offset the cost they lowered the checklist to 160 cards. Then and now collectors responded in record numbers.

The design on the card front is simple, with zero distractions to take away from the photo, a black outline makes the photo pop even more.

The card back also features some first-time changes. They went with cream-colored cardboard, red and black ink, player bio, commentary, and for the stats, they allowed a spot for collectors to fill in the stats for the 1953 year. Genius!


1953 Topps, #207 (PRT)

Today, some collectors like to add second-year cards to their collections because it features the player still in their early playing years. Also, second-year cards help some collectors because they may be priced out of their rookie cards.

Technically speaking, this is actually Whitey Ford’s second-year card because he was enlisted in the military and was not featured in neither the 1952 Topps nor the 1952 Bowman brand.

By this time the Bowman-vs-Topps battle was entrenched in the courts. Because of continued legal battles, Topps cut back the size of its set from 407 to 280 cards in this 1953 offering.

All the litigation aside this set has become another collector favorite due to beautiful design and colors.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.

Address
304 North Cardinal
St. Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Work Hours
Monday to Friday: 7AM - 7PM
Weekend: 10AM - 5PM