Never has a pitcher been as dominant as Sandy Koufax was in his prime. Before arm injuries forced him into early retirement, the Dodgers' lefty crippled hitters over a five-year period in ways no hurler ever has.

Koufax broke into baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, but it was not until 1961 that he asserted his dominance. Nonetheless, Koufax’s most collectible baseball cards come from his early years.

There is only one recognized Koufax rookie card: a 1955 Topps. Koufax was not the only star to have a 1955 Topps rookie card. Future Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Harmon Killebrew did as well.

The card shows a headshot of a boyish Koufax—it looks like he has yet to take his first shave—set against a yellow background. The card is not considered too difficult to find, though it is rarely in high-grade because it is prone to poor centering.

Koufax was not the centerpiece of the Dodgers team that won the World Series that year. In fact, he only pitched in 12 games in the 1955 season.

Two years later, while Koufax was still a middling pitcher, Topps released its most striking Koufax card. The 1957 Topps shows a close up of Koufax wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers cap—it was the team’s last year in Brooklyn before moving to Los Angeles—with his famously infectious smile from ear to ear. Like the entire 1957 Topps set, this card is often found poorly centered and with border toning.

After the 1957 season, the Dodgers headed west. To commemorate the move, Bell Brand, a corn and potato chip company, released a ten-card regional set of all Dodgers. Bell Brand a...

The black-and-white Koufax card shows the lefty crouched down, as if he had just delivered a pitch to the plate. It’s a great image, but because the card came in bags of potato chips, it is very difficult to find in good condition.

At the time all of those Koufax cards were printed, few would have thought they would one day be extremely collectible. Koufax was a rather mediocre hurler stuck in the middle of the Dodgers rotation.

All that changed in 1961.

That was the year Koufax went 18-13, striking out a league-leading 269 batters en route to his first All-Star game. Koufax had finally realized the potential that made Dodgers scout Al Campanis famously remark, “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.”

From 1962 to 1966, Koufax led the National League in ERA every year, won three Cy Young awards, one MVP award, two World Series championships, and two World Series MVPs to go with those titles.

Unfortunately, despite his success, Koufax was constantly enduring serious arm pain. He was forced to medicate himself heavily before and between starts, and after the 1966 season his arm could not take it anymore: he was forced to retire in the heart of his prime at the age of 31. When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame five years later, he became the youngest player ever to enter that illustrious club.

It is a wonder to consider what Koufax could have done had his left arm not failed him. Even with his early retirement, Koufax threw four no-hitters—a record at the time that was later broken by Nolan Ryan—including one perfect game.

In addition to his on-the-field dominance, Koufax is also remembered as one of baseball’s rare Jewish stars, which made him an idol to Jewish kids everywhere. The observant Koufax, a Brooklyn native, refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Nonetheless, the Dodgers would win that World Series, and Koufax would be named the series’ MVP.

Popular Koufax collectibles today include his game used #32 jerseys, autographed baseballs and photographs, and even autographed copies of the April 13, 1964, issue of “Sports Illustrated,” which had a drawing of Koufax on the cover.

On rare occasions, game-used Koufax gloves are made available to well-heeled collectors. Koufax’s Spalding glove that he wore during his 1963 no-hitter sold for six-figures in 2004, as did a glove he used during his final season, which was sold in 2009.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rc Rookie Hof Brooklyn Dodgers Psa 5 Ex1962 Topps #5 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof Sandy Koufax Autographed Signed Omlb Hof Baseball Dodgers Mint Spring Training 1965 Topps #300 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof1966 Topps #100 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Los Angeles DodgersSandy Koufax Autographed Signed Omlb Hof Baseball Dodgers Mint No Reserve Sandy Koufax 1998 Donruss Signature Significant Autograph Sp Auto #/2000 $2501964 Topps #200 Sandy Koufax Psa 8.5 Nm-mt+ 8 Hof1963 Topps #210 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof 1960 Topps #343 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof 1957 Topps Set Break #302 Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Nm G294911961 Topps #344 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof 1960 Topps Complete Set Mantle(sgc 70) Clemente Spahn Mays Aaron Koufax Yaz More1966 Topps #100 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof1955 Topps Baseball-#123 Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn Dodgers Hof (r) Sgc 55/4.51965 Topps #8 Nl Era Leaders Sandy Koufax And Don Drysdale Psa 8 Nm-mt1966 Topps #225 Nl Strikeout Leaders Sandy Koufax Bob Gibson Veale Psa 81956 Topps Set Break # 79 - Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Nm G270471955 Topps Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers #123 Psa 5.5Psa Baseball Card Lot, Hof, Vintage, Old, Rookie,topps, Mantle, Clemente, Koufax1955 Topps Sandy Koufax R/c #123 Baseball Card Psa Grade 4 Vg-ex Cond "looks 6"1964 Topps Stand-up Sandy Koufax Psa 8 - Los Angeles Dodgers (set Break)Sandy Koufax Autographed Brooklyn La Dodgers Salvino Limited Edition Figurine1956 Topps Sandy Koufax & Johnny Podres - Good/vg And Ex - Nice Lot1963 Topps #412 Dodgers Big 3 Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Johnny Podres Psa 81958 Topps #187 Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Near Mint. Almost Perfect Centering.Sandy Koufax 1966 Autographed Topps Hall Of Famer. Wow!!! 100% Wow!!! Look!!!1955 Topps Ex+ Sandy Koufax Graded Psa 5.5 Ex+ Rookie Card #123 Brooklyn Dodgers1967 Topps #236 Nl Pitching Leaders Sandy Koufax Gibson Juan Marichal Psa 9 1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rc Rookie Hof Brooklyn Dodgers Psa 5 ExBrooklyn Dodgers Sandy Koufax Signed Auto Black Romlb Gold Ink1963 Topps #5 Nl Era Leaders Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Bob Gibson Psa 8 Nm-mt1958 Topps Set Break #187 Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Nm G295171964 Topps #136 World Series Game 1 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Psa 81959 Topps Sandy Koufax #163 Razor Sharp Corners Beautiful Surface Nm+-mint!!! 1961 Topps #344 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Psa 9 (oc) *516336Lot (129) 1966 Topps Rose Ford Killebrew Gibson Yaz Hunter Koufax Loaded1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Psa 6 Ex-mt Pack FreshSandy Koufax Autographed Rawlings Oml Baseball- Gai Coa1959 Topps Sandy Koufax #163 Psa 4 Vg/ex (mc) Hof Dodgers No Reserve! Rc 1956 Topps Baseball Set Break 79 Sandy Koufax1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Rc #123 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)Sandy Koufax Signed Autographed La Dodgers Authentic Classic Jersey Coa ProofSandy Koufax Autographed Signed Jersey Cream Mitchell & Ness La Dodgers Gai Coa1960 Topps Baseball Sandy Koufax #343 Los Angeles Dodgers Ex+ No Creases !!Sandy Koufax Signed Baseball Dinner Program Jsa Coa Autograph Hof1957 Topps Sandy Koufax #302 Baseball Card Psa Grade 3 Vg-cond "amazing Card"1956 Topps Sandy Koufax Wb #79 Baseball Card Psa Grade 4.5 Vg-ex+cond "amazing"1957 Topps #302 Sandy Koufax Ex1961 Sandy Koufax Topps Psa 7 Near Mint1963 Topps #9 Nl Strikeout Leaders Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Bob Gibson Psa 8 1964 Topps Giants #3 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Hof Sp1963 Topps Sandy Koufax #210 Excellent Los Angeles DodgersSandy Koufax #343 1960 Topps Baseball Card - Los Angeles DodgersSandy Koufax Signed 1964 Photo Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Hall Of Fame Hof Sandy Koufax Autographed Magazine Photo W/coaSandy Koufax - Nolan Ryan - Bob Feller Autographed Baseball - Score Board Coa1961 Topps Set Break #344 Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Nm G295312014 Topps Baseball Factory Sealed Complete Set 660 Cards Sandy Koufax Chrome1963 Fleer #42 Sandy Koufax Los Angelas Dodgers Psa 8 O/c

Recent News: Sandy Koufax Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Dodgers Spring Preview: New Boys In Blue, Same Goal
Neon Tommy, March 2nd

That's not a stat one would expect to be associated with the pitcher that Sandy Koufax, Dodgers great and MLB hall of famer, dubbed as the “best pitcher in baseball.” Koufax's support is a testament to the raw talent that Kershaw possesses and confirms...Read more

Times have changed since Drysdale, Koufax held out
Murfreesboro Post, February 28th

In 1965 Don Drysdale won 23 games for the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax won 26 and their contracts ran out. Remember, this was before free agency and long-term deals. After they won the World Series in 1965, both pitchers asked for raises and were ...Read more

Sandy Koufax expects Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw to win in postseason
Los Angeles Times, February 26th

Sandy Koufax said he didn't know what to make of the changes to the Dodgers roster or how teenage pitching prospect Julio Urias' career will unfold. What the 79-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher sounded certain about was this: Clayton Kershaw will triumph...Read more

Sandy Koufax impressed with Julio Urias
True Blue LA, February 26th

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax arrived at Camelback Ranch on Thursday, the first day of his annual visit to spring training with the team. Koufax called the team's 18-year-old pitching prospect Julio Urias "impressive" multiple times...Read more

Lou Gehrig's Holey Pants Sell for 167K And Other Highlights From Biggest ...
Forbes, February 25th

At the Platinum Night sale this past weekend in New York City, Mike Sadler, Heritage's auctioneer, didn't want a repeat of last year. At times the noisy and boisterous room distracted serious bidders from keeping up with the escalating prices, so the U...Read more

How best to use fantasy baseball projections to build your draft strategy
ESPN, February 20th

It wasn't until his final six seasons, during which time he won 82 more games than he lost, had a 2.19 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 4.16 K-to-walk ratio, that Koufax really became the "Sandy Koufax" we remember, and that transformation represented about the most ...Read more

Sandy Koufax, Vin Scully added to Dodgers bobblehead lineup
Los Angeles Times, February 13th

The Dodgers will again make bobbleheads of their two greatest icons as they add dolls of Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully to their promotional calendar for the upcoming season. lRelated Despite high marks, Enrique Hernandez could start in minors · Dodgers ...Read more

The Left Arm of God: Sandy Koufax was more than just a perfect pitcher, August 30th

In honor of Sports Illustrated's 60th anniversary, is republishing, in full, 60 of the best stories ever to run in the magazine's history. Today's selection is on Sandy Koufax, whom the magazine named its favorite athlete of the 20th century...Read more