He’d spent the afternoon working the barbecue in his backyard in Lake Success, swapping stories with his neighbors, enjoying a sunny Memorial Day when he was called to the phone. This was 2010, and if Whitey Ford’s birth certificate insisted he was 81 years old, the voice insisted that number was a liar.
“What the hell did Andy do now?” Ford said, cackling in lieu of hello.
By then, Whitey Ford was used to taking calls like these whenever one of his spiritual descendants was nearing one of his records. He once laughed that he spent the entire summer of 1978 talking about Ron Guidry, because Guidry that summer was the best Yankees pitcher anyone had ever seen except for Whitey Ford.
“You know,” he told me once with a bright smile, “if that SOB had only thrown right-handed, nobody ever would have bothered me.”
On this day, another forever Yankees lefty, Andy Pettitte, had beaten the Cleveland Indians, 11-2, in the afternoon at Yankee Stadium for the 236th victory of his career, which happened to tie him for 60th on the all-time list with Edward Charles Ford, better known by any of three nicknames. Slick was one. The Chairman of the Board was another.
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