Next Man Up — Belle Mead’s Mike Ford Joins NY Yankees
Mike Ford, 26, is the newest member of the New York Yankees. He learned the game playing little league baseball in Montgomery, where he helped take his summer travel team to the Cal Ripken World Series when he was 12, and to the Babe Ruth World Series when he was 13.
Ford was also a star pitcher and batter for Hun School, then for Princeton University where he made Ivy League history when he was named both conference player of the year and pitcher of the year in 2013. He began his professional career with short-A Staten Island, where he hit .235 (27x115) with 19 runs, 7 doubles, 3 home runs and 17 RBI in 33 games. See more stats here.
Montgomery resident Dale Johnson grew up with Ford and played baseball with him for six years, from age eight to 14. Johnson says “Mikey was our best pitcher and our best hitter. He was hitting home runs in eighth grade (when he played for Montgomery Middle School) that would easily make it out of Yankee stadium today.”
Ford transferred from Montgomery High School to the Hun School, a private day school and boarding school in nearby Princeton, after his freshman year. But he continued to live with his parents in Belle Mead as he continued through high school. Ford’s parents are both medical doctors who graduated from Rutgers University in the 1980s. His mother, Barbara Marroccoli, MD, is a specialist in internal medicine and his father, Robert Ford, MD, is a diagnostic radiologist who worked with Princeton Radiology.
As a teenager, Ford was the pitcher for the Hun School Raiders, where he was also a star batter. He would hit four home runs in a game. Hun school graduates and coaches remember a 2010 game in Pottsville, Pa., in which he hit four homers and drove in 10 runs leading his school to a win.
Ford had counted Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter among his favorites. "They won every year when I was younger, so it was pretty easy to like them," Ford has said. He also attended many games at both the previous and current Yankee Stadiums.
Another star Yankee comes to mind for Dale Johnson, who remembers the young Ford as “a thick pudgy kid who could swing a bat,” kind of like a young George Herman Ruth, also known as “Babe Ruth,” “The Bambino” who gave Yankees Stadium the moniker as “The House that Ruth Built.”
In a recent press conference, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said: “Mike Ford is off to a great start. We know he can really hit the ball. I think he has a chance to really impact us.”
It looks like Ford will play first base. He is replacing Greg Bird, who has a plantar fascia tear and will be out in the Injury List for a least a month.
While Boone said he is sorry to see Bird injured again, (he has had four injuries in four years), it is “an opportunity for someone else to have an impact on our club. Mike Ford will get chances to make a great first impression.”
Ford’s official first game was Tuesday, April 16, but he sat in the dugout the entire nine innings, even though the Yanks beat the Red Sox 8-0. Those who know the game of baseball were not surprised because Ford is left-handed hitter, and the Sox had left-handed pitcher, Chris Sale, on the mound. Left-handed hitters perform best against right-handed pitchers because breaking pitches will curve toward the batter, making them easier to hit. When a left-handed batter faces a lefty, curve balls bend away. The hitter is likely to take a weaker swing as he lunges after the ball.