New York Yankee player Mike Ford after not making the starting day roster, finally has a role to fill, and it’s an important one. Over the weekend, first baseman Jay Bruce decided to hang up his cleats and retire from baseball, creating a void at first base until the rehabbing Luke Voit rejoins the team in a month. Yesterday I wrote about who would replace Bruce. Today it is apparent that it will be Mike Ford as the Yankees have announced his call up from Scranton.
Ford didn’t make opening day due to a slow start in spring training, but in the past has provided quite a bit of spark for the Yankees, both with home runs and timely hitting. The lineup for today’s Atlanta Braves meeting has not been released as of this writing, so it’s hard to tell if he will replace temporary first baseman DJ LeMahieu at first or if he will sit in the dugout to be used when needed.
Here’s a bit about Ford: Robert and Barbara Ford are parents of 28-year-old Mike Ford. Ford was born and grew up in the Belle Mead area of New Jersey. When he was 12 and 13, he was part of Montgomery’s Babe Ruth League teams that went to the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth World Series. He attended Montgomery High School as a freshman before transferring to the Hun School of Princeton. The Hun School is a private boarding school. He played baseball during college at Princeton University, where he played as a first baseman and a pitcher. In 2013 he received the distinction of being named both Player and Pitcher of the year at Princeton. He hit .320 and pitched 6-0 that year.
Ford spent seven years in the minor leagues between the Yankees and Mariners. For the Yankees, he played in the minors for Staten Island Yankees, The Trenton Thunder, The River Dogs, Tampa, and the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. In 2012 Ford went undrafted and signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent. He spent that whole year with the Staten Island Yankees. In 2014 while with the River Dogs, Ford hit four home runs in one game. He was later promoted to Tampa, where he was named an All-Star for the Florida State League. In the winter of 2017, he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners, but in March of 2018, he was returned to the New York Yankees.
At the start of 2019, Ford was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He was eventually assigned to the Rail Riders but got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He had traveled back and forth from Scranton to the Stadium several times during that year, but near the end of the season, he remained at the stadium batting .200 with five home runs in 85 at-bats. In a blowout by the Indians, Ford was sent out to pitch due to his pitching experience at Princeton. He gave up two home runs but pitched three innings, including a 1-2-3 ninth inning; the experience somewhat amused him. With Bird and Voit both out due to injuries, Ford alternated with DJ LeMahieu at first base.
In an interview by the New York Post’s Steve Serby Ford was asked how he would sum up his journey to the big leagues. Ford replied:
“It was a long, long journey. A tough one, too. It’s something I would never give back. Definitely hard work, determination, and just kind of the will of not quitting. … There were definitely times where I was very close [to quitting]. I had very good people around me that supported me and kind of kept me in line.”
He was also asked what drives him today?
“Living up to the player that I know I can be. I think [that’s] what a lot of guys strive for. It took me a long time to get here, but keeping the faith and getting here and being a confident hitter and being confident in what I do, I just want to prove that I can be that player that I know I can be.”
By the end of the season, Ford had become a fan favorite and was making a name for himself in the front office. He ended the season playing in fifty games with 143 plate appearances. He hit to a batting average of .259 with 12 home runs; that’s one home run in every four games.
On September 1, 2019, against the Oakland Athletics, it was the ninth inning in a game tied at 4. The Yankees came all the way back to tie the game. Mike Ford stepped to the plate and, on a 3 and 2 count, hit the first walk-off home run of his career, giving the Yankees the win.
During the shortened 2020 season, Ford appeared in less than half the New York Yankee games with 10 hits, two of them home runs but suffered with a .135 batting average. His 2021 spring training was a bit better; in 11 games, he had one homer and a batting average of .259. Ford tends to get energized at Yankee Stadium, and hopefully, he will provide a spark that gets the Yankees on track.
When not playing at New York Yankee Stadium, Ford lives near the Rail Riders stadium and is not married, nor is there any news of a steady girlfriend.