The Yankees on Friday planned to wear a "16" patch on their uniform sleeves during Game 5 of the ALDS to honor Whitey Ford, who died at the age of 91 on Thursday. Ford wore No. 16 for the bulk of his Hall of Fame Yankees career.
Ford’s life and legacy were honored by Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner, by manager Aaron Boone and reliever Zack Britton, and on social media by former Yankees such as Paul O’Neill, Alex Rodriguez and Wade Boggs.
Said Steinbrenner: "Whitey’s name and accomplishments are forever stitched into the fabric of baseball’s rich history. He was a treasure, and one of the greatest of Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes. Beyond the accolades that earned him his rightful spot within the walls of the Hall of Fame, in so many ways he encapsulated the spirit of the Yankees teams he played for and represented for nearly two decades.
"Whitey was New York tough. When you couple that with his dedicated service to our country, a deep love for the only team he ever played for, six world championships, and a genuine personality and charisma that showed throughout his life, it’s no wonder he endeared himself as a legend to generations of Yankees fans everywhere.
"While there is comfort knowing Whitey was surrounded by his family at the time of his passing while watching his favorite team compete, this is a tremendous loss to the Yankees and the baseball community. We have lost our ‘Chairman of the Board,’ and we extend our deepest condolences to the entire Ford family."
Boone, speaking before Game 5 against the Rays at Petco Park in San Diego, said he had limited interaction with Ford.
"Whitey Ford is a legend in our industry and certainly here with the New York Yankees," Boone said. "This is one of those guys that’s a Mount Rushmore guy in the Yankee organization. This legend of this larger than life ‘Chairman of the Board.’ Obviously, great pitcher, but one of those guys that personifies this franchise’s greatness is Whitey. Just the nickname itself. I know he was beloved in this organization by so many people and my heart goes out to his family today."
Britton represented the Yankees players and lefthanded pitchers when asked about Ford, whom he did not know personally.
"Obviously, hearing this news this morning, obviously devastated for his family," Britton said. "As a young lefthanded starter coming up, Whitey Ford’s one of those guys you look up to. Obviously, I didn’t get a chance to watch him pitch. You know the name and you know where he ranks as one of the best pitchers of all-time, especially lefthanded. Never got the opportunity to meet him, unfortunately. It’s a big loss for the game and his family, obviously, and we’re thinking about them today. I’ll be honored to wear that ‘16’ on my (sleeve). Just looking up a lot of the things he accomplished, not only in his career, but his military service, as well. I have a lot of respect for what he accomplished."
Ford joins Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline and Lou Brock as baseball Hall of Famers who have passed away in 2020.