Mike Ford, the Yankees on again off again first baseman is typical of the arduous trek to the big leagues for many players. His is a baseball story…
Mike Ford has spent most of his baseball life patrolling first base in the minor leagues. Toiling in the Yankees farm system since 2013, Mike Ford has had lockers in seven cities across America before he reached “The Show” with the Yankees in April of this year. His is a baseball story worth telling.
Before I go any further with this article, I ask you to direct your attention, now or later, to Rustin Dodd’s compelling piece about Ford, appearing in The Athletic, a publication that is fast becoming the go-to source for “off-the-grid” stories about baseball.
Mike Ford: Another Accidental Yankee
By any stretch of one’s imagination, Mike Ford is hanging on to his stay with the Yankees by a thread. His .171 batting average does not come near the .303 mark with 23 home runs and 60 RBI he put up while at Triple-A Scranton for most of the 2019 season.
Luke Voit goes down with a sports hernia and Mike Ford is called up by default. For Ford, it’s a dream come true.
But Ford is not a first-round draft pick by the Yankees. He was signed in the final year of his eligibility, playing in the Cape Cod League. At the time, he was also in the middle of his quest for a degree at Princeton University.
Choices. A degree with his name on it from a prestigious Ivy League school might have taken Ford far, if not in a different direction from baseball. Mike Ford decided he could do both.
His thesis? Of course, it was baseball oriented, centering on a subject that concerns MLB today, reckoning further into the future. Ford explains:
Pretty heady stuff for a major league first baseman. But Mike Ford had set his sights on the Yankee’s clubhouse, a dream of so many in baseball.
That Ford was promoted over Ryan McBroom, who is raking to the tune of .323 with equal numbers of home runs and RBI, tells us something about what the Yankees think of Ford.
The Method To The Yankees Madness
And no doubt, their thinking is tied to the character of what it takes to accomplish what Ford has done in both an academic and baseball setting. Taking nothing away from McBroom, these are often the intangibles separating one player from another for Brian Cashman when deciding on roster changes.
Ford’s single to left, driving in Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s win over the Orioles did nothing to dispel the belief that Ford is capable of getting it done for the Yankees. Other highlights include this moment:
Like many of the Yankees labeled as Replacements, Ford has shown he can play at this level. He may have zero chance of making the Yankee’s postseason roster.
But like many of his teammates, Mike Ford has solidified his place in the Yankees hierarchy of players in their minor league system. No minor accomplishment, Ford, if nothing else makes him suitable in trade discussions Brian Cashman is sure to be undertaking during the upcoming offseason.
It’s a long ways from the ivied halls of Princeton when Mike Ford was juggling books and baseballs. For now, his focus remains on baseball.
But his baseball story, unique onto its own, will always be tied to that diploma stashed somewhere among his possessions, that will always be a treasure no one can ever take away.
Mike Ford is among the fortunate among those who have strived for a career in baseball. The difference for him is there will always be life after baseball.