One of the greatest Dodgers of all time turns 82 today. In honor of his birthday, we take a look back at his historic career.
Sandy Koufax played 12 seasons, all in a Dodgers uniform. In those 12 seasons, Koufax won 3 Cy Young’s, an MVP, achieved the pitching triple crown 3 times, and was a 4-time World Series champion. Koufax was also the author of 4 no-hitters, and the 8th perfect game of all time.
Koufax was born December 30th, 1935 in Brooklyn. He grew up a two-spot athlete, excelling in both baseball and basketball. Koufax would later attend the University of Cincinnati and become a walk-on on the baseball team. He would play only one season in college, before he was signed by his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers. Due to the bonus rules when he was signed, he began his career on the Major League roster.
Number 32 made his debut in 1955, at just 19-years old. The lefty had a somewhat tough start to his career, but made his first All-Star team in 1961 and never looked back. He would go on to be an All-Star for the next 7 seasons in a row, with each season seemingly more dominant than the last. Koufax was always a very talented pitcher, and his strikeout numbers confirm that, but his real success came when he began to limit walks in 1961.
Koufax won his first Cy Young in 1963, and was named MVP the same season. He went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts that season, leading the league in all three categories. He also had 20 complete games and 11 shutouts that season. The following season he pitched to a 19-5 record with a 1.74 ERA and struck out 223 batters, finishing third in Cy Young voting.
Sandy’s best individual season came in 1966, where he went 27-9 with a 1.73 while striking out 317 batters. For the third time in his career, he led the league in all three categories. The 1966 season ended up being his last, and he retired after it ended at just 30-years old. Koufax began having severe arm pain during the 1965 season, but still threw 54 complete games over his final two seasons. His workload, along with less being known about arm injuries, ultimately led to his retirement due to an arthritic condition in his elbow.
Sandy Koufax became the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972, at just 36-years old. Koufax finished his career as one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time. Turning 82 today, we all want to wish Sandy a very happy birthday!