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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Player Profile - Ronnie Ford, Detroit Caesars

Ronnie Ford was the offensive engine for the Detroit Caesars, playing with the team from 1977 through 1979. Caesars owner Mike Illitch sought to add to the high-powered Detroit talent when building his team, and brought this top amatuer player to Detroit from Florida.

In 1977, Ford primarily played shortstop for Detroit, finishing 5th in the league in batting (.607), second in home runs (85), and second in RBI (184), leading the team to the Series title, while winning all-league honors for himself.

1978 saw one of the most dominating performances in softball history, as Ford ripped the APSPL apart, leading the Caesars to another Series title. Ronnie nearly took the triple crown, finishing second in batting (.645), first in home runs (80), and first in RBI (201). Teammate Mike Nye beat Ford by a mere .009 percentage points (.654 to .645) to take the batting crown. Ford was named league MVP.

In an interview with The House of Swing ( Mike Nye shared some insight in Ronnie's triple-crown chase, "My teammate Ronnie Ford and myself are battling it out for the batting title. He has won the home run and RBIs, so he is trying to win the triple crown and I am trying to win the battling title. We played those double-headers in those days. So we finish up on Sunday and the first game of the twin bill I go 1-4 and Ronnie goes 3-5. Our coach comes up to both of us and says "hey guys you want to sit out the last ball game? My reply was "what are you nuts or what?!" You couldn't keep me out of that game I was so pumped up that I went 6-6 with 2 grand-slams and Ronnie goes 2-5 and I win the battle title."

Rule and ball changes in 1979 saw offensive statistics take a huge plunge, although Ford contined his dominance of the power categories, finishing first in home runs (43) and RBI (122). Ford took all-league honors yet again in the final season of the APSPL.

In 2003, Ford was named to the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame for his stellar softball career, one of four Caesars to earn such honors.