It’s okay if you don’t remember Lew Ford. Most people don’t, because for most people his day in the sun wasn’t that long of a day and it sure as heck wasn’t all that sunny. Those who do remember him likely don’t remember him for his Major League Baseball career. Rather, he’s remembered by a select few as the longtime player and coach for the Long Island Ducks of the unaffiliated Atlantic League. To most fans, Ford is a “who” and to those following unaffiliated ball he’s Mr. Duck. For Minnesota Twins fans he’s something more, a reminder of when they last won in the playoffs.
Tuesday, October 5th 2004 the Twins took the field in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. These weren’t the killer Yankees of the 90s, rather, a formidable team that was always a threat to go deep in the playoffs. To the 2004 Twins, the Yankees were just the Yankees, they weren’t yet the team that would come to haunt their dreams for years to come. When the Twins took the field that night they had their ace Johan Santana on the mound, Joe Nathan waiting to close the game out, and Ford in the designated hitter spot. 2 hours and 53 minutes later the Twins had themselves a 1-0 series lead and were feeling pretty good about themselves.
5838 days, 15 hours, and 6 minutes later (as I type) the Twins are still searching for their next playoff win. After their 3-1 loss on Wednesday, it will be another year. The core of that 2004 team is long gone. The only remaining active player of the bunch is the one and only Lew Ford. He didn’t play in 2020, but that was only because the ALPB canceled their season due to the Coronavirus. As of right now, the 44-year-old has plans to keep playing in 2021 when the Ducks are back on the field again.
In the years that followed game 1 of the 2004 ALDS, the Twins have gone on to lose 17 playoff games in a row, and counting. During that same time, Ford won playoff games with Caribes de Anzoátegui, Guerreros do Oaxaca, Navegantes del Magallanes, the Ducks, and a few other teams. As the Twins have suffered playoff defeat after playoff defeat and losing season after losing season Ford has played the game at a high level and won championships in various leagues. Twins fans long forgot about Ford, but they can never move past Ford’s first playoff game with the team.
Aces have come and gone, some all-world prospects have failed to live up to potential, other blue-chippers put together Hall of Fame careers, and Lew Ford left the team to continued his career elsewhere. A lot has happened since the Twins last won a playoff game, but all Twins fans can focus on is October 5th, 2004. Twins fans would rather forget that day, they’d like to move on and enjoy a single victory. That’s all they need at this point, not a series win or even a World Series. A single victory would do so much to soothe their aching baseball souls.
Perhaps it’s time for Twins fans to think of Ford one more time. He was told many times that his career was over and that he should hang up his cleats for good. Instead, Ford went and built himself a career that is as varied and well-traveled as they come. He took the greatest adversity of his life, being told by MLB teams that he was no longer wanted, and made a career out of said adversity. They’ve had 17 long years of playoff losses and the adversity of their club has carried on from one roster to the next. Lew Ford took great adversity and made himself a mountain of gold from said adversity. Twins fans have to believe their team will win a playoff game, heck they may have won a game before this is even published. Once that roadblock is overcome Twins fans will be able to breathe easier and enjoy baseball again, just like Ford has his entire life.