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    

Sandy Koufax 2012 Topps Tier One Baseball Sp Autograph Card! #/50 On Card Auto!Topps Hall Of Fame Lot Mantle Mays Maris Koufax 1954-1964 12 Cards Attic Find1957 Topps #302 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof 1956 Topps #79 Sandy Koufax Great Centering White Back Psa 8 Nm-mt Hof 1958 Topps #187 Sandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Brooklyn DodgersSandy Koufax Signed Baseball--hof--dodgersSandy Koufax Signed "sandy Koufax Personal Model Bat". Bat In Wrapper. Steiner1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Psa 41955 Topps Baseball Card Xmas Cello Rack Pack (koufax? Psa?) Amazing & AuthenticOriginal 1965 Topps Baseball Card Empty Wax Pack Box Mantle Koufax KillebrewSandy Koufax 1987 Perez Steele Signed Psa/dna Mint 9 Dodgers Hof Bold Auto1965 Topps Baseball Sandy Koufax #300 Psa 7 Dodgers Nm Hof Set BreakSandy Koufax 1964 Topps #200 - Los Angeles Dodgers - No Creases!! Outstanding!!1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers Rc Rookie Hof Sgc 50 Vg-ex 4Sandy Koufax Hof 3x5 Signed Index Card Auto Sgc Authentic1964 Topps # 200 Sandy Koufax Attic FindSandy Koufax Mitchell & Ness Dodgers Jersey1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers Hof Sgc 45 Vg+ 3.5 Rc Rookie 2000 Sp Authentic Chirography Sandy Koufax Certified Auto Signed On Card #skSandy Koufax Signed 1955 Topps #123 Psa/dna 9 Mint Autograph On Rookie Card1964 Topps Giant Sandy Koufax #3 Baseball Card Sharp Corners1957 Topps Sandy Koufax Hof #302 Psa 7 Nm 1961 Topps Xmas Rack Pack Dodger Southpaws W/ Koufax-top; Drysdale Also On Top1962 Topps Baseball Stamp Album Partially Filled With 94 Stamps Mantle Koufax1963 Topps 412 Dodgers Big Three Podres Drysdale Sandy Koufax Bvg 8.5 Bgs 1964 Topps Giants Complete Set (60) Nm Mantle Koufax1961 Topps #344 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Hof Psa 7 B1936801-741Assorted Psa Lot Of (4) Sandy Koufax Dodgers Hof Postcards1966 Dodgers Postcards #67392 Sandy Koufax Hof Psa 7.5 Nm+ Low Pop Only 2 HigherSandy Koufax Rc Rookie 1955 Topps # 123 No Reserve Dodgers Hof Baseball CardLot Of (6) Sandy Koufax League Leaders Psa 1961 To 1967 Topps1960 Topps #343 Sandy Koufax Psa 5 Set BreakSandy Koufax Signed 1982 Topps Kmart Card2015 Topps Heritage Sandy Koufax A Legend Retires Lot (24)1963 Topps Baseball Sandy Koufax Card #210 Graded Sgc 82 Ex-mt+ 6.5 Vivid Colors1965 Topps Baseball N.l Era Leaders #8 Psa 8 Koufax Drysdale Nm-mt Set BreakSandy Koufax 1964 Topps Stand-up Which Psa Has Graded A 6!1964 Topps 200 Sandy Koufax + #5 Nl K Ldrs (koufax, Drysdale) - Both Cards Psa 52015 Heritage Sandy Koufax A Legend Retires '66 Sp Insert Walmart 11 Card Lot1962 Post Canadian # 109 Sandy Koufax ExSandy Koufax Topps Certified Autograph Issue1960 Topps Set Break #343 - Sandy Koufax Psa 6 Ex-mt H302192015 Topps Heritage Sandy Koufax A Legend Retires 6 Card LotDodgers 1959 Signed Baseball Koufax Snider Labine Neal Drysdale Psa Jsa Must SeeSandy Koufax Autographed Baseball....certified1959 Topps #163 Sandy Koufax Los Angeles Dodgers Hof Sgc 80 Ex-nm 61964 Topps #5 Nl Strikeout Leaders Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Psa 8.5 Nm-mt+1963 Topps #412 Dodger's Big Three W/ Drysdale Koufax Podres Psa 5 ExLot Of 9 2015 Topps Tribute Koufax, Ryan, Rivera1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Card Brooklyn Dodgers1961 Topps Baseball Sandy Koufax Card #344 Graded Sgc 84 Nm 7 Clean And Crisp!1962 Topps #60 Nl Strikeout Leaders Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Psa 8 Nm-mt2015 Topps Series 1 #cs-12 Sandy Koufax Penny Stamp Coin 25/501963 Topps Baseball Card Sandy Koufax #210 Bv $150 Exmt !!range 114151975 Topps #201 1963 Mvp's Elston Howard Sandy Koufax Psa 9 Mint Centered1964 Topps Baseball Card Lot #225 Koufax 124 Pena Giants Cardinals Braves Team1956 Topps #79 Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Near Mint ++ Hof Dodgers Very High End1960 Dodgers Team Issue Sandy Koufax Hof Psa 4 Vg-ex Low Pop Only 1 Higher1961 Topps Sandy Koufax Hof #344 Psa 7 Near - Mint

Recent News: Sandy Koufax Memorabilia

Source: Google News

You decide: Who are the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time?
Los Angeles Times, April 27th

Will you place Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw in your top 10? Will you place Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw in your top 10? (Jon SooHoo / L.A. Dodgers). By Houston Mitchell contact the reporter. You decide: Who are the 10 greatest Dodgers of all ...Read more

Pirates sneak past Diamondbacks to earn 2-1 win
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 25th

Burnett entered the game 10 strikeouts behind Los Angeles Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax and 14 away from becoming the 41st pitcher in major league history to reach 2,400 career strikeouts. A sluggish Pirates offense managed just four hits off right...Read more

Baseball manager's lifesaving legacy grows
WJXT Jacksonville, April 25th

Starting in 1965, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose and Al Kaline were the first five winners, and the 2008 award went to Boston pitcher Jon Lester, who got a cancer diagnosis in 2006. He received chemotherapy treatments at the ...Read more

Twins Star Tony Oliva visits fans at Mower County Senior Center
KTTC, April 24th

"I do remember, in that second game in the World Series, he got a double off Sandy Koufax. And not many people can get any hits off of Sandy Koufax! He's tremendous and we won the game." Purcell said she is disappointed in the behavior of some of the ...Read more

Franchise Four: Greatest living players
ESPN (blog), April 23rd

Sandy Koufax is his own category of wonderful. But putting him on this list ahead of Bob Gibson, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and especially Roger Clemens is pretty ridiculous. Let's look at it this way: Koufax went 165-87 with an ERA+ of 131. Now let's...Read more

Dodgers Celebrate Jackie Robinson Day, Civil Rights Game
NBC Southern California, April 15th

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, former Brooklyn Dodger pitching star Don Newcombe, Joni Campanella, the daughter of the late Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella, and scholars from the Jackie Robinson Foundation will also be featured in the ceremony...Read more

Rachel Robinson and Sandy Koufax
LA Downtown News Online, April 14th

Rachel Robinson and Sandy Koufax. photo by Gary Leonard | Posted: Friday, April 17, 2015 3:13 pm. Dodger Stadium, April 15, 2015. 14 MORE IMAGES TAGGED WITH "TAKE_MY_PICTURE". Rules of Conduct. 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene ...Read more

Ask The Experts: How Much Is My Baseball Signed By Sadaharu Oh And Sandy ...
Forbes, April 13th

I have a ball signed by Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, Willy Mays, Ernie Banks, Sadaharu Oh, Frank Robinson and others. The ball is actually a Hawaii Islanders model (Triple A affiliate for the Pirates back then). There are a total of 14 signatures. Mark...Read more