Whitey Ford, one of the last surviving members of the '50s and '60s Yankee dynasties, died earlier this week at the age of 91.
I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but it's always seemed to me that there's long been a huge discrepancy between Whitey's fame and the amount of attention his baseball cards get, perhaps more than any other household name. I rarely see him mentioned anywhere in collecting circles. Unlike other Yankee greats of his era like Mantle and Maris, I couldn't tell you what some of his late '50s/early '60s cards look like, because I'm not sure I've ever seen them.
As is always (sadly) the case when a legend passes away, I made a deeper dive into my Whitey Ford collection recently, and I figured it's a good enough excuse to revive my long-defunct Top Five theme around here, which I've been wanting to do for a while. The concept is simple enough: I pick a player and post my five favorite cards of said player, good for easy posts since I haven't had a lot of time or energy to devote to the blog lately.
Even if it's just in my head, I figured it's high time Whitey's cards got some attention, so here's my Top Five list in honor of the late Yankee great.
#5 -- 1967 Topps #5 Whitey Ford
Whitey's sunset card, and one of the first big final tributes I added to my collection -- a beautiful card even with the crease.
I guess someone at Topps must've really liked the way Whitey looked in that faux-follow through pose -- arm extended with middle and index fingers poking out a la Moe Howard -- because they used it on each of his last two cards.
#4 -- 2016 Stadium Club #50 Whitey Ford
It's darn near impossible to find night cards of '50s Golden Age greats like Whitey, so this beauty from Stadium Club (of course) is truly a godsend.
#3 -- 1962 Topps #315 Whitey Ford IA
This '62 Topps in-action subset is a lot like Whitey's cardboard catalog, in that I feel it's unfairly overlooked most of the time.
These are fantastic, and very much unlike anything else issued in packs of baseball cards at the time -- plus they predate the more famous '72 Topps In Actions by a full decade.
#2 -- 1954 Topps #37 Whitey Ford
I don't think I ever posted about it on the blog, but Dad surprised me with this gargantuan find last year, which I think he bought through an auction site he randomly stumbled upon.
This is a full five years older than the next-oldest Whitey I own, and while I've never been a huge fan of '54 Topps, that takes nothing away from the joy I get out of this card.
#1 -- 1960 Topps #35 Whitey Ford
I never really put it together before, but Dad's had a mighty impact on my Whitey Ford collection, because he's the reason I own this card, too...albeit under far more fascinating circumstances.
I've told this story on the blog a few times before, but I'll tell it again because I think it's a fun tale. I don't recall exactly how old I was at the time (probably 5th or 6th grade), but I remember my dad getting home from work one day and handing me a stack of random cards out of nowhere. From what he said, a few kids in town had set up a lemonade stand, and for whatever reason, they were selling baseball cards on the side for a few extra pennies. My dad rounded up a stack he thought I'd like, and paid a whole two dollars for it.
This 1960 Topps Whitey Ford was in that stack of cards(!). I wasn't too hip to card values and such at the time, but even then I knew it was out of the ordinary, and definitely something special. Over time that story has grown into a kind of legendary chapter in my collecting history, and because of that, this creased, taped, and mangled Whitey Ford would definitely be a member of my personal cardboard Mount Rushmore.
Now that I think of it, maybe Ford's cards feel ignored to me because of how big of a role they've played in my own collecting history -- either way, rest easy, Whitey.