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    

Original 1965 Topps Baseball Empty Wax Pack Display Box Koufax Mantle KillebrewVintage Baseball (56) Card Superstar Lot ... Vg+ ... Mantle, Koufax Rc, RoseVintage Baseball (60) Card Superstar Lot ... Vg+ ... Koufax, Kaline & Ryan Rc∎ 1955 Topps Baseball Card Sandy Koufax Rc #123 **a Beauty**2015 Topps Heritage Sandy Koufax Lot Complete 15 Card A Legend Retires '661966 Topps Baseball Complete (-5) Card Set (psa) ... Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Koufax1960 Topps Baseball Complete Set (572) W/ Yaz Rookie Rc Mantle Koufax Mccovey2014 Topps Tier One Sandy Koufax Auto 6/10 Silver Ink Autograph 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Graded Psa 4 Vg-ex Condition Card #123 Rare Nice Sandy Koufax 1963 Topps #210 - Los Angeles Dodgers - Psa 7 - Nrmint!!!1956 Topps Sandy Koufax #79 (white Back) ... Graded Sgc 84 (7) ... Centered∎ 1956 Topps Baseball Card Sandy Koufax #79 **mint Card**Sandy Koufax Nolan Ryan & Bob Feller Signed Oal Baseball Ball Jsa Autographed Sandy Koufax Signed Baseball Inscribed Auto Ball Coa Steiner Dodgers Autographed1956 Topps #79 Sandy Koufax Psa 5 Centered 50/50 Brooklyn Dodgers1959-1971 Topps 500-card Lot Some Stars: Koufax Carew Yaz Gibson Fox Carlton1955 Topps Near Set (209/210) Mostly Ex+ W/ Some Nm + Koufax Rc Sgc 50 Vg-ex 41961 Topps Hof Lot: Banks Koufax Snider Ruth Ford Gibson Mccovey Killebrew FoxSandy Koufax Bobblehead Dodgers 6-27-2013 Sga Nib1956 Topps Sandy Koufax "white Back" Psa Graded Ex-mt 6Sandy Koufax Signed 1981 Perez Steele #131 Postcard Psa/dna Auto Dodgers Hof 1961 Topps Break 344 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Psa 8!Sandy Koufax Autographed Gateway Cachet Fdc First Day Cover Envelope1965 Topps Sandy Koufax Dodgers #300 Baseball Card Graded Psa 7 Near Mint Nm Hof1967-1968 Laughlin World Series Set Nice Koufax Mantle Ruth Cobb Ott Mint Auto Signed Autograph Sandy Koufax Custom Stitched Jersey Gai Certified DodgersSandy Koufax Autographed Brooklyn La Dodgers Salvino Limited Edition FigurineLow-grade Hof Lot: Aaron Mays Banks Koufax Berra Robinson Rose Bench Carew Ryan1966 Topps Sandy Koufax #100 Ernie Banks #110 Bvg Nice Star Lot Dodgers Cubs Sandy Koufax 1963 Topps # 210 Los Angeles Dodgers Psa Graded1961 Topps Sandy Koufax #344 Los Angeles Dodgers Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof!1955 Topps Card #123 Sandy Koufax Rc Rookie Dodgers Psa 4 Vg-ex Hof! Nice Color!Sandy Koufax 2007 Ud Ultimate Collection Autograph Dodgers Auto Sp #01/10 $800+2015 Topps Heritage Sandy Koufax Lot 9 Card A Legend Retires '662013 Topps Chasing History Baseball Proof Card. Sandy Koufax Dodgers1964 Topps Near Set Of (586/587) W/ Mantle #50 Koufax #200 Missing Only #581Auto Signed Autograph Sandy Koufax Custom Stitched Jersey Gai Certified Dodgers2015 Topps Heritage Sandy Koufax A Legend Retire Lot Of 11 La Dodgers No DupesSandy Koufax Bobblehead Dodgers Sga New In Box 1961 Topps Leaders Lot: #41 42 45 46 47 48 49 50 Mays Clemente Koufax Spahn WynnSandy Koufax 1965 Topps #300 Psa 7 Nearmint1961 Topps Baseball #344 Sandy Koufax Nrmt Set BreakAutographed Sandy Koufax Signed Perez-steele Hof Postcard #131 Signature Psa Coa1958 Topps #187 Sandy Koufax Ex Condition Jr90331955 Topps Baseball Card #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Hof Dodgers Rc Psa 2 Good1964 Topps Stand Ups Sandy Koufax Bvg 1.5 HofDodgers' Big Three (podres Drysdale Koufax) 1963 Topps #412 - Nrmint+ Terrific!!1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Baseball Card Psa Graded Ex-mt 6 See Pics 1956 Topps Hof Lot-#15 Banks, #79 Koufax, #31 Aaron(grey) Poor-fair-good1960 Sandy Koufax - Topps #343, Psa7Sandy Koufax 1961 61 Topps #344 Sgc 84 Nm 7 Dodgers1963 Topps #210 Sandy Koufax Psa 6.5 Los Angeles Dodgers1965 Topps Baseball Sandy Koufax #300 Psa Graded 8(oc)1960 Topps #343 Sandy Koufax2015 Topps Heritage Sandy Koufax A Legend Retires '66 Walmart Sp Insert Lot!!Sandy Koufax 2015 Topps Heritage Walmart Insert Lot+then And Now-clayton KershawSandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers - 35mm Baseball Negative1962 Post 1963 Jell-o (12) Different Low/mid Grade Lot Sandy Koufax G/vg1962 Topps #5 Sandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers Hof Psa 5 Ex Non AutoSandy Koufax And Andre Ethier Autographed Batting Glove Jsa Letter

Recent News: Sandy Koufax Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Great Moments in Astros History: Nolan Ryan's Fifth No-Hitter
Climbing Tal's Hill, March 26th

Whilst with the Angels, Ryan would throw four no-hitters, equalling the record of the great Sandy Koufax, although one of Koufax's no-hitters was also a perfect game, one of the few feats that Ryan never achieved in his otherwise stellar career...Read more

What Editor Mike Canan is reading on March 26
WCPO, March 26th

Finally, in case you missed it earlier this week, Brent Coleman has a great piece about Sandy Koufax and his UC ties. It seems I can't escape Koufax. When I worked on Florida's Treasure Coast, Koufax lived in our area in Vero Beach. The Dodger great ...Read more

Stars Who Walked Away in Their Prime
Bleacher Report, March 25th

Likewise, Sandy Koufax shocked the baseball world when he retired at the age of 30, while he was still the best pitcher on the planet. And, more recently, stars like Barry Sanders and Michael Jordan prematurely retired as well, when they were still...Read more

Who Knew? Sandy Koufax walked onto the University of Cincinnati baseball ...
WCPO, March 24th

Sandy Koufax walked onto the University of Cincinnati baseball team and then into history. The Dodgers signed him after one year of varsity. Brent Coleman, WCPO contributor. 1:38 PM, Mar 24, 2015. 6 hours ago. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is introduced ...Read more

This Day in Dodger's History: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale Made ...
Lasorda's Lair, March 18th

Today is a historic day in Dodger history. Some of the young kids may not know or remember, but the Dodgers used to call their spring training home in Vero Beach Florida. The complex was affectionately termed “Dodgertown”. The historic Dodgertown at ...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

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