When I was pitching, I only remember the big Ballantine Beer sign near the scoreboard at old Yankee Stadium. I knew if I had to turn around and see that sign, then somebody must have hit one out there off of me [laughs].
But that's always been a part of baseball. When we played the Dodgers, when they were still in Brooklyn, they had the sign in the outfield at Ebbets Field that said "Hit Sign, Win Suit." Abe Stark was the store. Pitkin Avenue. I'll never forget it. I heard he paid a few dollars for that sign every year, but when the Dodgers' games started being broadcast on television more often, the price went up. (Editor's note: In the 1940s, Mr. Stark paid about $275 a season to have his sign at Ebbets. When New York's WOR began televising games in the 1950s, the price went up to more than $2,000.)
But what's happening today, to be honest, it's getting a little crazy. There's signs everywhere now. You see them behind home plate when you're watching on TV, the [virtual] signs that people in the ballpark can't see.
I'm not thrilled with the whole idea ... but what are you going to do? With the salaries they're paying now, they have to make money. When I played, there was hardly any television. Today, television calls the shots.
If you're baseball, you have to draw the line somewhere. These outfield signs, these names of the stadiums, this [promotion] they're doing now, that's all well and good. Like I said, you can't begrudge them the chance to make some money. But to go any further, well, I just think it would end up really turning off the fans.
Edward Charles "Whitey" Ford, 75, was a pitcher with the New York Yankees from 1950-1967, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. His 236 victories are the most in the history of the Yankees, and he owns the record for most World Series victories with 10. Mr. Ford was interviewed on May 6, prior to the league's decision not to put ads on the bases.