With a short, distinct fade of his cream-colored mustache, nicknamed “Shorty,” “Shorty” Ford established himself as a maverick among New York Yankees pitchers.
And with that maverick persona Ford stood out in a distinguished group of relievers throughout Yankees history, who, in stark contrast to contemporaries from other countries, never grew out their facial hair.
The stoic short-game specialist, born May 5, 1924, and a staple of George Steinbrenner’s staff throughout the owner’s turbulent reign, died Sunday after a battle with bone cancer. He was 91.
Ford pitched 15 seasons with the Yankees, and a year after retiring in 1970, the righthander’s blown save in the bottom of the ninth inning of a matchup against the Boston Red Sox is celebrated as one of the most poignant sporting moments of that decade.
Mr. Ford’s unorthodox pitching style, unorthodox behind his shaggy mustache, included breaking fastballs from both sides of the plate before spinning off them to the strike zone. That made him one of the most feared relievers in New York City after shutting down hitters that 20 times out of 21 chances during the 1952 season.