Oct. 9, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Astoria-native and New York Yankees pitching great Whitey Ford died Thursday night at his home on Long Island.
Ford grew up playing ball in the sandlots of Astoria with the neighborhood’s 34th Avenue Boys and went on to spend his entire 16-year professional baseball career as a New York Yankee, winning more games than any Yankee player in history.
Nicknamed the “Chairman of the Board” for his winning record, Ford joined the Yankees in 1947 and became a ten-time All Star and six-time World Series champion. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
Ford’s 236 career wins are the most of any Yankee player in history.
The team released a statement Friday stating they are incredibly saddened to learn of his passing.
“Whitey spent his entire 16-year career as a Yankee,” the team wrote on Twitter. “A 6x WS Champion and 10x All-Star, The Chairman of the Board was one of the best lefties to ever toe the rubber. He will be deeply missed.”
A ball field in Astoria is named after the baseball legend and is currently undergoing a $2 million ramp. The funding was allocated by Council Member Costa Constantinides and former Borough President Melinda Katz in 2017.
Constantinides, also an Astoria native and a big baseball fan, mourned the loss of Ford in a statement today.
“Today, New York City lost one of Astoria’s proudest sons and one of the greatest Yankees of all time,” Constantinides said. “Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford represented the best of this hard-working community, where kids of modest means can grow up to be legends. More than 50 years after his retirement, the Chairman of the Board still boasts several Yankee pitching records.”
He said Ford’s legacy will live on at the Whitey Ford Field on 26th Avenue, at Hallets Point.
“Whitey Ford represented what it means to be a Yankee: a determined team player who wants to bring greatness to his City,” 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.”
The grass ballfield was named after Ford in August 2000 and is used by Little Leagues and many other organizations.
The Whitey Ford Field is the oldest ball field in Queens and was first built in 1906, according to Neil Herdan, co-chair of Friends of Whitey Ford Field.
Renovations at the field were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but are expected to begin shortly, Herdan said.
The Parks Department will reconstruct the seawall and waterfront infrastructure at the ball field.