After Luke Voit and Edwin Encarnacion went down with injuries, first basemen came up to the Yankees and quickly made a name for himself.
On Sunday afternoon, with the game tied in the bottom of the 9th inning, Mike Ford stepped to the plate and became the first Yankees’ Rookie in franchise history to hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run–a moment the undrafted Princeton grad would have never anticipated a few years ago.
As the son of two doctors, it comes as no surprise that Mike Ford took his talents to Princeton to play baseball but, just as importantly, to get an Ivy League degree. In his final year for the Tigers, Ford hit .320 and a .946 OPS while leading the Ivy League in walks and 2nd in home runs. The 2012 draft came and went and Ford never heard his name called; however, that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream of playing Major League baseball as he signed a free-agent deal with the Yankees.
He made his professional debut in 2013 for the Staten Island Yankees where he hit an underwhelming .235 with a .720 OPS and only 3 home runs in 136 plate appearances. Ford spent the next 3 years at the Single-A level until he was finally promoted to Double-A Trenton midway through the 2016 season. He began his 2017 campaign with the Trenton Thunder where posted a .272/.410/.451 slash line with 13 home runs in 101 games before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton and getting one step closer the ultimate dream.
Ford kept his hot bat going that year hitting for a .925 OPS and 7 bombs in only 25 games. On December 14, 2017, Ford was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft but was later returned back to the Yankees after not making the 25-man roster out of Spring Training in 2018.
His marathon of a minor league career continued in 2018 where he posted a .253/.327/.433 slash line with 15 home runs. Prior to the 2019 campaign, the Yankees invited Ford to Spring Training as a non-roster player and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton to begin the season. After Greg Bird made his yearly scheduled visit to the Injured List on April 16, the wait for Mike Ford’s big league debut was finally over. 561 minor league games and hundreds of long bus trips later, Ford received the call he had been dreaming about since he was a kid–he was going to The Show.
The New Jersey native made his MLB debut on April 18th and 3 days later recorded his first major league hit against the Kansas City Royals. After an underwhelming big league tenure, he was optioned back to Scranton where he went on an absolute tear crushing pitchers all across the International League. In 79 games this year at the Triple-A level, Ford hit .303 with a 1.007 OPS with 23 home runs–these numbers earned him the opportunity to be recalled back to the Yankees when Edwin Encarnacion hit the IL with a fractured wrist on August 3rd.
Ford has kept that hot bat going for the Yankees as he is slashing .414/.433/1.103 for a ridiculous 1.537 with 6 home runs in the last 14 days. One of those home runs coming on Sunday afternoon when he sent the Yankee faithful home happy with a walk-off bomb to the bullpen in right-center field. For a New Jersey-born kid that was undrafted and spent 561 games in the minor leagues, I can’t imagine the feeling he had when he saw that ball fly over the wall and the Yankees dugout empty out to greet him at home plate.