Pettitte tied Ford's lifetime total with his 1,957th punchout in a Yankees uniform, a swinging strikeout of Twins center fielder Clete Thomas in the second inning. He then passed Ford with career strikeout No. 1,958, fanning Justin Morneau in the fifth inning.
The left-hander mentioned it is hard to fathom that no other Yankee has thrown more strikeouts than him.
"It's cool," Pettitte said. "I feel very honored to be able to be with this organization for so long and it's very special."
Those were Pettitte's only two strikeouts of the night, as he left after five-plus innings with the Twins leading, 4-3. He allowed four runs on six hits and four walks, laboring through a three-run, 42-pitch first inning. The Yankees rallied late for a 10-4 victory.
Pettitte did note he was disappointed with his outing overall, but to get it with a win -- Joe Girardi's 600th Major League managerial win -- made it that much more special.
"That makes it nice, that's for sure. Joe was able to get his 600th win also," Pettitte said. "That's good stuff. I feel very fortunate to be able to be around as long as I have and to be able to be mentioned with Whitey's name is obviously always an honor."
Ford held the top spot on the Yankees' strikeout leaderboard for nearly 50 years as he passed Red Ruffing for the franchise lead on Sept. 9, 1963. Nicknamed "The Chairman of the Board," he pitched 16 seasons with the Yankees, compiling a lifetime record of 236-106 with a 2.75 ERA in 3,170 1/3 innings spanning 498 big league games (438 starts). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974.
"He's been awesome to me," Pettitte said. "He's not doing real good; he didn't know who me and [trainer] Stevie [Donohue] were this year [at Old-Timers' Day]. It's bittersweet. I hadn't seen him in a couple of years. To be able to talk pitching to him, and then for him to not really know who we were, it was kind of sad this year. He's getting old; everybody's getting old."
Pettitte is in his 18th big league season, having pitched for the Yankees from 1995 to 2003 before spending three seasons with the Astros. Pettitte returned to New York in 2007 and announced his retirement after the 2010 season, only to come out of retirement in 2012. He surpassed Ford's mark in his 2,697th inning of work as a Yankee.
"When you think about some of the names he's passed in his career it's really, truly amazing," Girardi said. "Andy's been a great pitcher for a long time and I think we're all very happy for him and just proud to know him."
Due to discrepancies in historical record-keeping, accounts of Ford's career strikeout total differ. The Elias Sports Bureau is the official statistician of Major League Baseball and recognizes Ford as having 1,957 strikeouts, while other sources -- including MLB.com -- credit Ford with 1,956 strikeouts.