Ford's won-and-lost record, season by season, is remarkably constant: 13-4, 16-8, 16-5, 15-4 (combining his Kansas City and New York records in 1950), 18-6 (in 1953 after two years in military service), 16-8, 18-7 and, this year, 15-5 by the first of September. If consistency is a jewel, Ford is high-carat quality.
His record indicates that he improved markedly year by year in the minors, since he advanced into faster competition each season. He pitched extremely well for Kansas City in 1950 (6 won, 3 lost) but turned in an even better record with the Yankees (9-1) after he was called up halfway through the season.
"What you learn, pitching in the minors," Ford said, "is confidence. You learn your pitches and what you can do with them. I grew up. I got bigger and heavier. I used the fast ball. I used the curve more and more. And I learned how to throw the changeup."
Once again he smiled, a half-embarrassed, half-amused smile.
"That's all I throw now," he confessed. "Fast ball, curve, change. I tried a slider for a while one year up here, but I hurt my arm throwing it so I gave it up. It's a good pitch but not for me. It hurts me. You see, when you throw a slider you sort of snap the ball."
He demonstrated, showing with his bulky, reddish forearm how the hand follows straight down after a fast ball and twists all the way through after a curve. With the slider, he demonstrated, you more or less stop the motion abruptly halfway through. He shrugged.
"It hurt my arm, so I don't use it. Just the fast ball, the curve and the change. My fast ball is all right, but I can't overpower a guy with it. I have to pitch to spots. My control is good, but it's not the kind of control that's over the plate all the time. I walk a lot of guys now. But maybe I'd rather walk them than let them hit. Maybe the next guy isn't as good a hitter.
"My greatest asset as a pitcher is knowing the hitters. Ed Lopat taught me that. He had to know every batter's weakness. I watch the batters from the bench. I talk to Turner. I talk to the other pitchers.
"You take———[he mentioned the name of a right-handed batter]. The way I'd. work on him, maybe, would be to start him off with a good curve. He likes to swing at my first pitch because he knows I try to get the first pitch in on him. But I know he knows that, so I try to give him something he'll go for that's not too good. So maybe I'll give him a good curve a little low, a little inside. Let's say he fouls it off. All right. One strike. Then I'd give him a fast ball in here."
He moved his hand across his chest.