It’s been a heck of a week for Mike Ford, the former Diamond Jack out Diamond Nation in Flemington, N.J.
Ford hit a pinch-hit game-tying home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning of the Yankees’ exhibition game against the Phillies on Monday. The game remained tied and the teams did not play extra innings.
The home run apparently broke Statcast, which bizarrely measured the blast at 680 feet and made for some entertaining social media banter.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone gushed with praise about Ford shortly after the game.
“I think some people miss how really good of an offensive player he is,” Boone said. “He controls the zone as well as you can and has power. He’s a really good hitter and I think a really good middle of the order Major League hitter. That’s how I view him, I think he’s that good offensively.”
Ford, who spent several years with the Diamond Jacks, played his high school ball at The Hun School and his college days with coach Scott Bradley’s Princeton Tigers, had a breakout year with the Yankees in 2019.
While it didn’t surprise many that Ford made the Yankees roster, the significance of the achievement clearly affected the first baseman. His Instagram post (below) early Thursday afternoon, in fact, spoke volumes about his emotions after learning he made a MLB opening day roster for the first time in his career, a career that included six years and 630 at bats in the minor leagues.
And Mike offers some great advice for young players in his post, too.
Ford was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in July of 2013 while playing in the Cape Cod League after his junior year at Princeton.
The lefty-hitting Ford stuck with the Yankees after his second call-up last summer and served an important role playing first base against right-handed pitchers and delivered repeatedly as a pinch-hitter. He hit a walk-off home run that gave the Yankees a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Sept. 1. Ford latched onto a Liam Henriks 3-2 pitch and launched it into the bullpen in right-center field.
“I didn’t hear anything, which is crazy,” Ford told reporters after the game. “Just a whole rush of emotion.”
By September, Ford had already established himself as a power threat from the left side, aiming at the short porch in Yankees Stadium’s right field. He put up impressive numbers in just 143 at bats. He ripped seven doubles, 12 HRs and drove home 25 runs. He’s keen eye at the plate was shown in 17 walks and a .350 on-base percentage. He also boasted a gaudy .909 OPS. Ford came through with five hits in pinch-hit at bats.
According to multiple media reports on Friday morning, Ford nearly got the nod to start the season Yankees opener on Thursday against Washington. As reported in in the NY Post, “left-handed hitting Mike Ford was a consideration to start at first base against Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, but Boone stuck with the right-handed hitting Luke Voit.”
Ford was one of eight Yankees to make their first Opening Day roster.