Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax

Infobox MLB retired
name=Sandy Koufax
birthdate=birth date and age|1935|12|30
Brooklyn, New York
debutdate=June 24
debutyear=Baseball Year|1955
debutteam=Brooklyn Dodgers
finaldate=October 2
finalteam=Los Angeles Dodgers
stat1label=Win-Loss record
stat2label=Earned run average
* Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers (by|1955by|1966)
* 6x All-Star selection (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966)
* 3x World Series champion (1959, 1963, 1965)
* 3x Cy Young Award winner (1963, 1965, 1966)
* 1963 NL MVP
* 2x World Series MVP (1963, 1965)
* 5x NL TSN Pitcher of the Year (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966)
* 2x Babe Ruth Award (1963, 1965)
* Pitched a perfect game on September 9, by|1965
* Los Angeles Dodgers #32 retired
hofdate=Baseball Year|1972
hofvote=86.87% (first ballot)

Sanford Koufax (pronEng|ˈkoʊfæks) (born Sanford Braun, on December 30, 1935) is an American left-handed former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, from Baseball Year|1955 to Baseball Year|1966.

Koufax's career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from Baseball Year|1961 to 1966, before arthritis ended his career at age 30. He was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in Baseball Year|1963, and won the 1963, Baseball Year|1965, and 1966 Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes, when there was only one Cy Young award made for all major league pitchers, unlike now when an award is made for each league. In all three seasons, he won the pitcher's triple crown by leading the league in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average (he actually led both leagues in all three categories).cite web | title = Sandy Koufax Statistics | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-14] [cite web | title = 1963 Major League Leaders | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17 cite web | title = 1965 Major League Leaders | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17 cite web | title = 1966 Major League Leaders | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17] A notoriously difficult pitcher for batters to face, he was the first major leaguer to pitch more than three no-hitters (including the first perfect game by a left-hander since 1880), to average fewer than seven hits allowed per nine innings pitched in his career (6.79; batters hit .205 against him), and to strike out more than nine batters (9.28) per nine innings pitched in his career. [cite web | title = No Hitter Records | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17 cite web | title = Progressive Leaders for Hits Allowed/9IP | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17 cite web | title = Progressive Leaders for Strikeouts/9IP | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17.] He also became the 2nd pitcher in baseball history to have two games with 18 or more strikeouts, and the first to have eight games with 15 or more strikeouts.

Among NL pitchers with at least 2,000 innings pitched who have debuted since Baseball Year|1913, he has the highest career winning percentage (.655) and had the lowest career ERA (2.76) until surpassed by Tom Seaver, whose NL career mark is 2.73. [While Seaver ended his career with an overall career ERA of 2.86, this included three seasons in the American League. Seaver passed Koufax's record in 1974 when he ended the season with more than 2,000 NL innings and an ERA of 2.47.] His 2,396 career strikeouts ranked 7th in major league history upon his retirement, and trailed only Warren Spahn's total of 2,583 among left-handers. Retiring at the peak of his career, he became, at age 36 and 20 days, the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.cite web | title = Retired Numbers - Kirby Puckett | work = | url=| accessdate = 2007-02-10]

Koufax is also known as one of the outstanding Jewish athletes of his era in American professional sports. His decision not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because game day fell on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, garnered national attention as an example of conflict between social pressures and personal beliefs.cite web| title = Yom Kippur and Sandy Koufax | work = | first=Sandor | last=Solomvits | url=| accessdate = 2006-11-15]


Early life

Koufax was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Borough Park, Brooklyn.cite web| title = Koufax Biography | work = | first=Seymour | last=Brody | url= | accessdate = 2006-11-15 ] His parents, Evelyn and Jack Braun, divorced when he was three years old; his mother remarried when he was nine, and Koufax took the surname of her new husband, Irving.cite web| title = Koufax Biography | work = | url= | accessdate = 2006-11-15 ] Shortly after his mother's remarriage, the family moved to the Long Island suburb of Rockville Centre. When he graduated from ninth grade, they moved back to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 19–22.]

Koufax attended Brooklyn's Lafayette High School, where he was better known for basketball than for baseball. When he started high school, school sports were not available because the New York teachers were refusing to supervise extracurricular activities without monetary compensation. As an alternative to school sports, Koufax started playing basketball for a local Jewish Community Center team. After the labor action was settled, he played for the high school basketball team. During his senior year, he became team captain and ranked second in his division in scoring, with 165 points in 10 games. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 22–28; Leavy, pp. 37–40.]

While attending high school, Koufax also played baseball. In 1951, at the age of 15, Koufax began playing in a local youth baseball league known as the "Ice Cream League". He started out as a left-handed catcher, and the next year moved to first base; he also played first base for the Lafayette High School team. While playing for Lafayette, he was spotted throwing the ball around the infield by Milt Laurie, the father of two of Koufax's teammates and coach of the Coney Island Sports League's Parkviews. Laurie recognized that Koufax might be able to pitch, so he recruited the 17-year old Koufax to pitch for the Parkviews. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 32–39.]

Koufax graduated from high school and attended the University of Cincinnati on a basketball scholarship. In spring 1954, he made the college baseball varsity team. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 43–44.] That season, Koufax went 3–1 with 51 strikeouts and 30 walks, in 31 innings. [Koufax and Linn, p. 46.] Bill Zinser, a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers, sent the Dodgers front office a glowing report that apparently was filed and forgotten. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 44–45.]

After trying out with the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, [Koufax and Linn, pp. 46–48.] Koufax went to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 56–57.] During the tryout with the Pirates, Koufax's pitching broke the thumb of his catcher, Sam Narron, the team's bullpen coach. Branch Rickey, then general manager of the Pirates, told his scout Clyde Sukeforth that Koufax had the "greatest arm [he had] ever seen". [Leavy p. 54] The Pirates, however, failed to offer Koufax a contract until after he was committed to signing with the Dodgers. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 70–74.]

Dodgers scout Al Campanis learned about Koufax from a local sporting goods store owner. After seeing Koufax pitch at Lafayette High School, Campanis invited him to a try out at Ebbets Field. Dodgers manager Walter Alston and scouting director Fresco Thompson watched as Campanis assumed the hitter's stance while Koufax started throwing. Campanis later said, "There are two times in my life the hair on my arms has stood up: The first time I saw the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the first time I saw Sandy Koufax throw a fastball." [Leavy p. 55] The Dodgers signed Koufax on a $6,000 salary with a $14,000 signing bonus. Koufax planned to use the signing bonus as tuition to finish his university education in case his baseball career failed. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 65–66.]

Professional career

Early years (1956–60)

Because Koufax's signing bonus was greater than $4,000, he was known as a bonus baby. That forced the Dodgers to keep him in the major leagues for at least two years before he could be sent to the minors. To make room for him on the roster, the Dodgers optioned their future manager, Tommy Lasorda, to the Montreal Royals of the International League. Lasorda would later joke that it took Sandy Koufax to keep him off the Dodger pitching staff. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 42, 75–94.]

Koufax made his major league debut on June 24, Baseball Year|1955, in the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Braves with the Dodgers trailing 7–1. Johnny Logan, the first batter Koufax faced, got a bloop single. He was followed by future Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron. Mathews bunted, and Koufax calmly fielded the ball and threw it into center field, trying to get Logan on the force. Aaron then walked on four pitches to load the bases. Bobby Thomson was the next batter, and after working the count full, he struck out swinging. Thomson had just become Koufax's first strikeout victim. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 95–97.]

Koufax's first game as starting pitcher was on July 6. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings, giving up eight walks. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 98–99.] He did not start again for almost two months, but he made the most of it when it did happen. On August 27, playing at Ebbets Field against the Cincinnati Reds, Koufax threw a two-hit, 7–0 complete game shutout for his first major league win. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 99–100, 295.] Koufax made only 12 appearances in 1955, pitching 41.7 innings and walking almost as many men (28) as he struck out (30). His only other win in 1955 was also a shutout. [Koufax and Linn, p. 295.]

During the fall, he enrolled in the Columbia University School of General Studies, which offered night classes in architecture. The Dodgers won the 1955 World Series for the first title in franchise history—but without any help from Koufax, who sat on the bench for the entire series. After the final out of the Series, Koufax drove to Columbia to attend class. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 3, 105–107.]

1956 wasn't very different from 1955 for Koufax. Despite the blazing speed of his fastball, Koufax continued to struggle with control problems. He saw little work, pitching only 58.7 innings, walking 29 and striking out 30; he had a 4.91 ERA. Rarely was he allowed to work out of a jam. As soon as he threw a couple of balls in a row, Alston would have somebody start warming up in the bullpen. Jackie Robinson, in his final season, clashed with Alston on several different subjects, including Koufax. Robinson saw that Koufax was talented and had flashes of brilliance, and objected to Koufax being benched for weeks at a time. [Leavy, p. 86.]

To prepare for the Baseball Year|1957 season, the Dodgers sent Koufax to Puerto Rico to play winter ball. On May 15, the restriction on sending Koufax down to the minors was lifted. Alston gave him a chance to justify his place on the major league roster by giving him the next day's start. Facing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Koufax struck out 13 and earned a complete game win. It was his first complete game in almost two years. For the next two weeks, and for the first time in his career, he was in the starting rotation. Despite winning three of his next five, leading the league in strikeouts and having a 2.90 ERA, Koufax didn't get another start for 45 days. In his next start, on July 19, he struck out 11 in seven innings, but got a no decision. On September 29, Koufax became the last man ever to pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers before their move to Los Angeles, by throwing an inning of relief in the final game of the season. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 117–124; Leavy, pp. 87–90.]

Over the next three seasons, Koufax was in and out of the Dodger starting rotation due to injuries. He started the 1958 season strong by going 7–3 through July, but ended up spraining his ankle in a collision at first base. He finished the season with an 11–11 record, leading the league in wild pitches. In June 1959, Koufax struck out 16 Philadelphia Phillies to set the record for a night game. On August 31, 1959, he broke that record and tied Bob Feller's major league record for strikeouts in one game with 18 strikeouts, (and broke the modern NL record of 17, by Dizzy Dean in 1933), pitching in Los Angeles against the Giants. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 125–138; Leavy, pp. 90–92; cite web | title = Box score and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17]

In Baseball Year|1959, the Dodgers won a close pennant race against the Milwaukee Braves and the San Francisco Giants and went on to face the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. The opening game of the series was in Chicago, and Koufax pitched two perfect innings in relief, though they came after the Dodgers were already behind 11–0. Alston gave him the start in the fifth game, played at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of 92,706 fans. He allowed only one run in seven innings, but was charged with the loss in the 1–0 game when Nellie Fox scored on a double play. However, the Dodgers came back to win the Series in Game 6 in Chicago. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 139–141; cite web | title = Box score and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17]

In early Baseball Year|1960, Koufax asked Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi to trade him because he wasn't getting enough playing time. By the end of 1960, after going 8–13, Koufax was thinking about quitting baseball to devote himself to an electronics business that he'd invested in. After the last game of the season, he threw his gloves and spikes into the trash. Nobe Kawano, the clubhouse supervisor, retrieved the equipment to return to Koufax the following year (or to somebody else if Koufax did not return to play). [Koufax and Linn, pp. 142–147; Leavy, pp. 93–95.]

Domination (1961–64)

1961 season

Koufax decided to try one more year of baseball and showed up for the 1961 season in better condition than he had in previous years. Years later he recalled, "That winter was when I really started working out. I started running more. I decided I was really going to find out how good I can be." [Leavy, p. 101.] One evening during spring training, Dodger scout Kenny Myers was talking with Koufax and catcher Norm Sherry and asked Koufax to demonstrate his windup. He discovered a hitch in Koufax's windup: he'd rear back far enough that, in his release, his vision was obstructed and he couldn't see the target. [Leavy, p. 102.]

The next day, Koufax was pitching for the "B team" in Orlando. His teammate, Ed Palmquist, missed the flight, so Koufax was told he would need to pitch at least seven innings. In the first inning, Koufax walked the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. Sherry told him, as he'd been told before, to take something off the ball to get better control. Koufax finally listened and struck out the side. By the time he came out of the game after seven innings, Koufax had struck out eight batters, walked five and given up no hits. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 153–155; Leavy, pp. 102–103.]

Koufax finally broke into the starting rotation permanently. On September 27, Koufax broke the National League record for strikeouts in a season, surpassing Christy Mathewson's 58-year-old mark of 267, set in by|1903. Koufax finished the year 18–13, with 269 strikeouts and 96 walks. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 157–159; Leavy, pp. 115–116.] During the two All-Star Games, Koufax pitched two innings without giving up a run. [cite web | title = First game box score and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17 cite web | title = Second game box score and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17]

1962 season

In Baseball Year|1962, the Dodgers moved to their new ballpark, Dodger Stadium. In contrast to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where Koufax had difficulty pitching due to the 250' left field line, Dodger Stadium was a pitcher-friendly park with large foul territory and a poor hitting background. Pitching in this park, Koufax lowered his home ERA from 4.29 to 1.75. [James, p. 233; Koufax and Linn, pp. 127–128; Leavy, p. 116.] On June 30 against the New York Mets, Koufax threw his first no-hitter; he would finish his career with a then-record four no-hitters. In the first inning of the 5-0 win over the Mets, Koufax struck out three batters on nine pitches to become the sixth National League pitcher and the 11th pitcher in Major League history to accomplish the nine-pitch/three-strikeout half-inning. With the no-hitter and a 1.23 ERA for June, he was named Player of the Month. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 167–169; Leavy, p. 119; cite web | title = Player of the Month Award | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17] cite web | title = 9-Pitches, 9-Strikes, Side Retired | url= | accessdate=2007-02-17]

That same season, Koufax's pitching hand was injured. In a batting appearance in April, Koufax had been jammed by a pitch from Earl Francis. Soon a numbness developed in Koufax's index finger on his left hand, and the finger became cold and white. Koufax was pitching better than ever before, however, so he ignored the problem hoping that it would clear up. By July his entire hand was becoming numb and he had to leave some games early. In a start in Cincinnati, his finger split open after one inning. A vascular specialist determined that Koufax had a crushed artery in his palm. Ten days of experimental medicine successfully reopened the artery. Koufax finally was able to pitch again in September, when the team was locked in a tight pennant race with the Giants. Trying to get back into shape after the long layoff, Koufax was ineffective in three appearances as the Giants caught the Dodgers at the end of the regular season, forcing a three-game playoff. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 165–176; Leavy, pp. 120–121.]

The night before the National League playoffs began, Manager Walter Alston asked Koufax if he could start the first game the next day. With an overworked pitching staff, there was no one else, as Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres had pitched the prior two days. Koufax obliged. Koufax later said, "I had nothing at all." He was knocked out in the second inning, after giving up home runs to Hall of Famer Willie Mays and Jim Davenport. After winning the second game of the series, the Dodgers blew a 4–2 lead in the ninth inning of the deciding third game, losing the pennant. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 176–177; Neyer, pp. 111–118.]

1963 season

Koufax came roaring back in Baseball Year|1963. On May 11, he carried a perfect game into the eighth inning against the powerful Giants lineup, including future Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Orlando Cepeda. Koufax walked Ed Bailey on a 3-and-2 pitch, but preserved the no-hitter, his second in as many years, by closing out the ninth. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 181–183; Leavy, pp. 122–123.] Koufax finished the year by winning the pitchers' Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (25), strikeouts (306) and ERA (1.88) while also throwing 11 shutouts (only Bob Gibson has pitched more shutouts in a season since then) and leading the Dodgers to the pennant. He won the NL MVP Award, the Cy Young Award (the first unanimous choice), and the Hickok Belt. [cite web | title = 1963 National League Statistics and Awards | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18] cite web | title = The Hickok Belt | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18]

The Dodgers faced the New York Yankees in the 1963 World Series, where Koufax beat Whitey Ford 5 to 2 in Game 1 and struck out 15 batters, breaking Carl Erskine's record of 14 in the 1953 World Series (Bob Gibson would break Koufax's record by striking out 17 Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series). Yogi Berra, after seeing Koufax's Game 1 performance, was quoted as saying, "I can see how he won 25 games. What I don't understand is how he lost five." [cite web | title=Sandy Koufax Biography | work=ESPN SportsCentury | url= | accessmonthday=May 24 | accessyear=2005] In Game 4, he completed the Dodgers' series sweep of the Yankees with a 2 to 1 victory over Ford, earning the World Series MVP Award for his performance. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 184–216; Leavy, pp. 132–143; cite web | title = World Series MVP Award | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18 cite web | title = 1963 World Series box scores and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18]

1964 season

The Baseball Year|1964 season started with great expectations. On April 18, Koufax struck out three batters on nine pitches in the third inning of a 3-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the first (and currently only) pitcher to accomplish the nine-strike/three-strikeout half-inning twice in the National League. On April 22, however, against the St. Louis Cardinals, during the first inning of Koufax's third start, he felt something "let go" in his arm. Koufax ended up getting three cortisone shots for his sore elbow, and he missed three starts. On June 4, playing at Connie Mack Stadium against the Philadelphia Phillies, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Koufax walked Richie Allen on a very close full-count pitch. Allen, who was thrown out trying to steal second, was the first and last Phillie to reach base. With his third no-hitter in three years, Koufax became only the second pitcher of the modern era (after Bob Feller) to pitch three no-hitters. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 219–221; Leavy, pp. 151–153.]

On August 8, Koufax jammed his pitching arm while diving back to second base to beat a pick-off throw. He managed to pitch and win two more games. However, the morning after his 19th win, a shutout in which he struck out 13, he could not straighten his arm. He was diagnosed by Dodgers' team physician Robert Kerlan with traumatic arthritis. Koufax finished the year with an impressive 19–5 record. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 222–228; Leavy, pp. 155–157.]

Playing in pain (1965–66)

1965 season

The Baseball Year|1965 season started off badly for Koufax. On March 31, the morning after pitching a full game during spring training, Koufax awoke to find that his entire left arm was black and blue from hemorrhaging. Koufax returned to Los Angeles to consult with Kerlan, who advised Koufax that he would be lucky to be able to pitch once a week. Kerlan also told Koufax that he would eventually lose full use of his arm. Koufax agreed not to throw at all between games—a resolution that lasted only one start. To get himself through the games he pitched in, Koufax resorted to Empirin with codeine for the pain (which he took every night and sometimes during the fifth inning) and Butazolidin for inflammation. He also applied capsaicin-based Capsolin ointment (called "atomic balm" by baseball players) before each game, and then soaked his arm in a tub of ice. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 228–239; Leavy, pp. 157–160.]

Despite the constant pain in his pitching elbow, Koufax pitched 335⅔ innings and led the Dodgers to another pennant. He finished the year by winning his second pitchers' Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (26), ERA (2.04) and strikeouts (382; the second highest modern day total). His strikeout total set a modern (post-1900) record that lasted until Baseball Year|1973, when Nolan Ryan struck out 383 batters. He held batters to 5.79 hits per nine innings, and allowed the fewest base runners per 9 innings in any season ever: 7.83, breaking his own record (set two years earlier) of 7.96. Koufax had 11-game winning streaks in both 1964 and 1965. Koufax captured his second Cy Young Award (again unanimously). [Koufax and Linn, pp. 234–240; Leavy, p. 160; cite web | title = Single-Season Leaders for Strikeouts | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18]

Koufax and the Dodgers faced the Minnesota Twins in the World Series. Koufax declined to pitch Game 1 due to his observance of Yom Kippur; with Drysdale pitching, his team was hit hard. In Game 2, Koufax pitched six innings, giving up two runs, but the Twins won the Game 5–1 and took an early 2–0 lead in the series. The Dodgers fought back, with Claude Osteen, Drysdale, and Koufax claiming vital wins to take a 3-2 lead back to Minnesota. In Game 5, Koufax pitched a complete game shutout, winning 7–0; however, the Twins won Game 6 to force a seventh game. Starting Game 7 on only two days of rest, Koufax pitched through fatigue and arthritic pain, throwing a three-hit shutout to clinch the Series. The performance was enough to win him his second World Series MVP award. Also, in 1965 he won the Hickok Belt a second time, the first (and only) time anyone had won the belt more than once. He was awarded "Sports Illustrated" magazine's Sportsman of the Year award. [Koufax and Linn, pp. 256–268; Leavy, pp. 169–195; cite web | title = 1965 World Series box scores and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18]


On September 9, 1965, Koufax became the sixth pitcher of the modern era to throw a perfect game. The game was Koufax's fourth no-hitter, setting a Major League record (subsequently broken by Nolan Ryan). Koufax struck out 14 batters, the most recorded in a perfect game. The game also featured a quality performance by the opposing pitcher, Bob Hendley of the Cubs. Hendley pitched a one-hitter and allowed only two batters to reach base. Both pitchers had no-hitters intact until the seventh inning.

In one of baseball's great statistical and score-keeping anomalies, this has been the only nine-inning major league game where both teams combined for one hit. The game's only run, scored by the Dodgers, was unearned.cite web | title = Sandy Koufax | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-15] [cite web | last=Attiyeh | first = Mike | title = The five best pitching duels ever | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18 cite web | title = Box score and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18] The Dodger run was scored without a recorded at bat—Lou Johnson walked, reached second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third, and scored when the throw to get him out at third went wild.


Before the 1966 season began, Koufax and Drysdale met separately with Dodger GM Buzzie Bavasi to negotiate their contracts for the upcoming year. After Koufax's meeting, he met Drysdale for dinner and complained that Bavasi was using Drysdale against him in the negotiations, asking, "How come you want that much when Drysdale only wants this much?" [Leavy, p. 205] Drysdale responded that Bavasi did the same thing with him, using Koufax against him. Drysdale's first wife, Ginger Drysdale, suggested that they negotiate together to get what they wanted. They demanded $1 million, divided equally over the next three years, or $167,000 each for the next three seasons. Both players were represented by an entertainment lawyer, J. William Hayes, which was unusual during an era when players were not represented by agents. [Leavy, pp. 200–207.] cite web|url=,9171,835304,00.html|title=Sic Transit Tradition|accessdate=2008-04-30|date=1966-04-08|publisher=Time, Inc.|work=Time] At the time, Willie Mays was Major League Baseball's highest paid player at $125,000 per year and multi-year contracts were very unusual.cite web|url=,9171,842547,00.html|title=Double Play|accessdate=2008-04-30|date=1966-03-25|publisher=Time, Inc.|work=Time]

Koufax and Drysdale didn't report to spring training in February. Instead, they both signed to appear in the movie "Warning Shot", starring David Janssen. Drysdale was going to play a TV commentator and Koufax was going to play a detective. Meanwhile, the Dodgers waged a public relations battle against them. After four weeks, Koufax gave Drysdale the go-ahead to negotiate new deals for the both of them. Koufax ended up getting $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000. They rejoined the team in the last week of spring training. [Leavy, pp. 207–210.]

1966 season

In April 1966, Kerlan told Koufax it was time to retire, that his arm could not take another season. Koufax kept Kerlan's advice to himself and went out every fourth day to pitch. He ended up pitching 323 innings and had a 27–9 record with a 1.73 ERA. Since then, no left-hander has had more wins, nor a lower ERA, in a season (Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton did match the 27 win mark in 1972). In the final game of the regular season, the Dodgers had to beat the Phillies to win the pennant. In the second game of a doubleheader, Koufax faced Jim Bunning in the first ever match-up between perfect game winners. Koufax, on two days rest, pitched a complete game, 6–3 victory to clinch the pennant. [Leavy, pp. 222–236.] While he started 41 games (for the second year in a row), only two left-handers started as many games in any season over the ensuing years through 2008.

The Dodgers went on to face the Baltimore Orioles in the 1966 World Series. Game 2 marked Koufax's third start in eight days. Koufax pitched well enough—Baltimore first baseman Boog Powell told Koufax's biographer, Jane Leavy, "He might have been hurtin' but he was bringin'"—but three errors by Dodger center fielder Willie Davis in the fifth inning produced three unearned runs. Baltimore's Jim Palmer pitched a four-hitter and the Dodgers ended up losing the game 6–0. Alston lifted Koufax at the end of the sixth inning with the idea of getting him extra rest before pitching a potential fifth Series game. It never happened; the Dodgers were swept in four, not scoring a single run in the last three. After the World Series, Koufax announced his retirement due to his arthritic condition. [Leavy, pp. 236–239; cite web | title = Box score and play by play | url= | accessdate=2007-02-18]

Career overall

In his 12-season career, Koufax had a 165–87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games, and 40 shutouts. Koufax and Juan Marichal are the only 2 major league pitchers in the post-war era (1946-date) to have more than one season of 25 or more wins; each posted 3 such seasons during their careers. In his last ten seasons, from 1957 to 1966, batters hit .203 against Koufax, with a .271 on base percentage and a .315 slugging average. They batted .189 in games that were late and close, and .186 in tie games. [The play-by-play data from which these averages were calculated are available starting in 1957. See cite web |url= |title=Sandy Koufax Career Pitching Splits |accessdate=2007-02-14 | ] His World Series record is just as impressive: a 4-3 won-lost record but a 0.95 earned run average in four World Series. He is on the very short list of pitchers who retired with more career strikeouts than innings pitched. Koufax was selected for seven All-Star games (twice in 1961 when there were two games played, and once in each year from 1962 to 1966, with the All-Star Game having returned to one game per year in 1963). Koufax was the first pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards, as well as the first pitcher to win a Cy Young Award by a unanimous vote; in fact, all three Cy Young Awards he won were by unanimous vote. More impressive yet, through Koufax's career there was only one such award given out annually. In Baseball Year|1967, the year after Koufax retired, Cy Young Awards began to be given to pitchers in both the National and American Leagues. [ cite web | title = MVP and Cy Young Awards | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-14]


Whereas many left-handed pitchers throw with a three-quarter or sidearm motion, Koufax threw with a pronounced over-the-top arm action. This may have increased his velocity, but reduced the lateral movement on his pitches, especially movement away from left-handed hitters. Most of his velocity came from his strong legs and back, combined with a high kicking wind-up and long forward stretch toward the plate. Throughout his career, Koufax relied mostly on two pitches: his four-seam fastball had a "rising" motion due to underspin, and not only appeared to move very late but also might move two or three distinct times; his overhand curveball, spun with the middle finger, dropped vertically 12 to 24 inches due to his arm action. He also occasionally threw a changeup and a forkball. [Neyer and James, pp. 270–271; Leavy, pp. 6–15.] quote box2 |width=20em |bgcolor= |align=right |halign=left |quote="I knew every pitch he was going to throw and still I couldn't hit him." [Koufax and Linn, p. 153; Leavy, p. 24.]
source= — Willie Mays
At the beginning of his career, Koufax worked with coaches to eliminate his tendency to "tip" pitches (i.e. reveal which pitch was coming due to variations in his wind-up). Late in his career, and especially as his arm problems continued, this variation—usually in the position he held his hands at the top of the wind-up—became even more pronounced. Good hitters could often predict what pitch was coming, but were still unable to hit it.

Post-playing career


Name = Sandy Koufax
Number = 32
Team = Los Angeles Dodgers
Year = 1972|
In 1967, he signed a ten-year contract with NBC for $1 million to be a broadcaster on the "Saturday Game of the Week". Never feeling comfortable in front of the camera, he quit after six years, just prior to the start of the Baseball Year|1973 season. [Leavy, p. 251.] cite web | last = Schwartz | first = Larry | title = ESPN Classic - Koufax dominating in '65 Series | url= | publisher = | accessdate = 2007-02-18]

Koufax married Anne Widmark, daughter of movie star Richard Widmark, in 1969; the couple was divorced in the 1980s. He then remarried and divorced again in the 1990s.

In his first year of eligibility in Baseball Year|1972, Koufax was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, just weeks after his 36th birthday. His election made him the Hall's youngest member ever, five months younger than Lou Gehrig upon his induction in 1939. On June 4 of that same year, Koufax's uniform number 32 was retired alongside those of Dodger greats Roy Campanella (39) and Jackie Robinson (42). [cite web | title = Dodgers Retired Numbers | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-15]

The Dodgers hired Koufax to be a minor league pitching coach in Baseball Year|1979. He resigned in Baseball Year|1990, saying he wasn't earning his keep, but most observers blamed it on his uneasy relationship with manager Tommy Lasorda. [Leavy, pp. 255–258.] In Baseball Year|2003, Koufax discontinued his relationship with the Dodgers when the "New York Post" (which, like the Dodgers, had become part of Rupert Murdoch's business empire) published a story reporting rumors about his sexual orientation, and implying that Koufax was gay. Koufax returned to the Dodger organization in Baseball Year|2004 when the Dodgers were sold to Frank McCourt. [cite web | title = Koufax returns to Dodgertown | work = Addict Baseball and Football Forum | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-15]

In Baseball Year|1999, "The Sporting News" placed Koufax at number 26 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Baseball Players." [cite web | title = TSN Presents - Baseball's 100 Greatest Players | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-15] That same year, he was named as one of the 30 players on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Although he rarely makes public appearances, he went to Turner Field in Atlanta for the introduction ceremony before Game 2 of the World Series. [cite web | title = The All-Century Team | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-15 cite web | title = Koufax makes appearance at World Series | work = CNN/SI | url= | accessdate = 2007-02-15]

In an article in 1976 in "Esquire" magazine, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Koufax was the left-handed pitcher on Stein's Jewish team.

More than four decades after he retired from baseball, Koufax was the final player chosen in the inaugural Israel Baseball League draft in April 2007. Koufax, 71, was picked by the Modi'in Miracle. "His selection is a tribute to the esteem with which he is held by everyone associated with this league," said Art Shamsky, who managed the Miracle. "It's been 41 years between starts for him. If he's rested and ready to take the mound again, we want him on our team." Koufax declined to join the Miracle, despite the fact he would have been working on 14,875 days rest. [] []

On May 14, 2007, Upper Deck Authenticated signed Koufax to an exclusive autograph and memorabilia agreement. [cite web | title = Upper Deck News & Events | work = | url= | accessdate = 2007-06-20]

Career statistics

ee also

* List of baseball players who went directly to the major leagues
* Bonus rule
* Triple Crown
* List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
* List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
* List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
* List of Major League Baseball wins champions
* List of pitchers who have struck out 18 or more batters in a nine-inning MLB game
* Pitchers who have struck out three batters on nine pitches
* Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
* Major League Baseball titles leaders
* Pitchers who have thrown a perfect game
* List of Major League Baseball no-hitters
* Los Angeles Dodgers all-time roster



*Thomas Boswell: "Koufax: Passing the Art Along", in "How Life Imitates the World Series", Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1982, pp. 50–55.
*cite book|author=Edward Gruver|title=Koufax|publisher=Taylor Trade Publishing|year=2000|id=ISBN 0-87833-157-3
*cite book | author=Bill James | title=The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1988 | publisher=Ballantine Books | year=1988 | location=New York | id=ISBN 0-345-35171-1
*cite book | author=Sandy Koufax | coauthors=Ed Linn | title=Koufax | publisher=Viking Press | year=1966| location=New York
*cite book|author=Jane Leavy|title=Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy|publisher=Perennial|year=2003|id=ISBN 0-06-019533-9
*cite book | author=Rob Neyer | title=Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders: A Complete Guide to the Worst Decisions and Stupidest Moments in Baseball History | publisher=Simon & Shuster | year=2006 | location=New York | id=ISBN 978-0-7432-8491-2
*cite book | author=Rob Neyer | coauthors=Bill James | title=The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers | publisher=Simon & Shuster | year=2004 | location=New York | id=ISBN 0-7432-6158-5
* David Pietrusza, Matthew Silverman & Michael Gershman, ed. (2000). Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia. Total/Sports Illustrated.
*cite web | title=Sandy Koufax Biography | work=Baseball Hall of Fame | url=| accessmonthday=June 21 | accessyear=2008
*cite web | title=Sandy Koufax Career Statistics | | url= | accessmonthday=May 24 | accessyear=2005
*cite web | title=Sandy Koufax Biography | work=ESPN SportsCentury | url= | accessmonthday=May 24 | accessyear=2005

External links

*baseballstats |br=k/koufasa01 |fangraphs=1007124 |cube=K/Sandy-Koufax
*imdb name|id=1620721|name=Sandy Koufax
* [] "The Sporting News" Baseball's 100 Greatest Players (#26)
* [ BaseballLibrary] - biography and career highlights
* [ Jewish Major League career leaders]

NAME = Koufax, Sanford
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Braun, Sanford (birth name); Koufax, Sandy
SHORT DESCRIPTION = American baseball player
DATE OF BIRTH = 20 December 1935
PLACE OF BIRTH = Brooklyn, New York

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sandy Koufax — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Sandy Koufax Lanzador Batea: Derecha Lanza: Zurda Debut en Grandes Ligas 24 de junio, 1955 con Brooklyn Dodgers Último juego …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sandy Koufax — Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers Nr. 32 Pitcher …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sandy Koufax — Sandy Koufax …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sandy Koufax's perfect game — Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched a perfect game in Major League Baseball against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on September 9, 1965. Koufax, by retiring 27 consecutive batters without allowing any to reach base, became the… …   Wikipedia

  • KOUFAX, SANDY — (Sanford Braun; 1935– ), U.S. baseball player, one of the greatest pitchers in its history, and with   Hank greenberg one of only two Jewish players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Koufax was born in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Koufax — ist eine Indie Pop Rock (Musik) Band aus dem mittleren Westen Amerikas. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Line Up 2 Bandgeschichte 3 Diskografie 3.1 Alben …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Koufax — may refer to:*Sandy Koufax, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer *Koufax Awards, a blog awards ceremony *Koufax (band), an indie rock band …   Wikipedia

  • Sandy (Vorname) — Sandy ist ein weiblicher und männlicher Vorname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung des Namens 2 Namenstag 3 Bekannte Namensträger/Namensträgerinnen 4 Sonstige …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Koufax, Sandy — p. ext. Sanford Koufax orig. Sanford Braun (n. 30 dic. 1935, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.). Lanzador de béisbol estadounidense. Su madre se divorció cuando era niño y Koufax adoptó el apellido de su padrastro. En su juventud practicaba deportes en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sandy — forcetoc Sandy may refer to:Places;United Kingdom *Sandy, Bedfordshire, England *Sandy, Carmarthenshire, Wales;United States *Sandy, Oregon *Sandy, Pennsylvania *Sandy Run, a stream in Pennsylvania *Sandy, Utah *Big Sandy, Tennessee *Sandy Spring …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”