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    

1963 Topps #210 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt Centered1958 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #187 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1955 55 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Hof Rookie Rc Psa 5 With Amazing Eye Appeal!1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Dodgers Rc Rookie Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt1959 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #163 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Sandy Koufax Autographed 1966 Topps Baseball Card Psa/dna Certified1963 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #210 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1965 Topps #300 Sandy Koufax Hof Los Angeles Dodgers Psa 7 Nm∎ 1964 Topps Baseball Card Sandy Koufax #200 **near-mint+**2015 Topps Museum Collection Silver Signature Frame Sandy Koufax Dodgers 3/10Sandy Koufax Hof 1959 Topps # 163 - Near Mint/mint1965 Topps Embossed Baseball Card Lot Of 57 Cards Inc Mays Mantle Koufax 1962 Topps #5 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Bvg 8 Nm-mt1966 Topps #100 Sandy Koufax Sgc 84 Nm 71965 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #300 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1960 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #343 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1964 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #200 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Sandy Koufax Signed Jersey1955 Topps 123 Koufax Rc Poor To Fair+Yellow Hall Of Fame Plaque Autographed Sandy Koufax Hologram1959-1966 Topps Hof Lot: Aaron Koufax Kaline Banks Brock Cepeda Maris Mccovey2015 Topps Bunt Dual Signature Sandy Koufax & Clayton Kershaw Baseball Card1957 Topps Set Break #302 Sandy Koufax Psa 6 Ex-mt I29314Sandy Koufax 2002 Upper Deck Legendary Signatures Sweet Spot Auto Dodgers Hof1964 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax Marichal Spahn Pitch Ldrs #3 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1962 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #5 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)Sandy Koufax 1955 Topps Trading Card #123 Baseball Vg-ex 4 Pitcher Dodgers Psa1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card Bv$1200+Lot Of 95 Vintage 1967 Topps Hank Aaron,koufax,drysdale,gibson,brock,jim Hunter.1965 Topps Sandy Koufax #300 ~ Ex/nm ~Topps Bunt - Koufax / Kershaw Dual Signature Insert Dodgers Digital CardNew 2015 Dodgers Sandy Koufax Cy Young Pin Sga Stadium GiveawaySandy Koufax Rookie Rc Card Psa 4 1955 Topps Dodgers #123 Vg-ex1961 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #344 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1963 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Podres Big Three Psa 8 Nmmt (pwcc)1966 Topps Sandy Koufax #100 ... Nm+1960 Topps Sandy Koufax - Los Angeles Dodgers1961 Topps Al & Nl Leaders Set: #41-50 Mantle Maris Koufax Mays Aaron Clemente2015 Topps Bunt Dual Signature Sandy Koufax & Clayton Kershaw Baseball CardSandy Koufax Signed La Dodgers Custom Stitched Mitchell & Ness Jersey Size 50 1963 Topps #412 Dodgers' Big Three Koufax Psa 8 Nm-mt 1963 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax Drysdale Gibson Era Ldrs #5 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Sandy Koufax 1957 Topps #302 - Mid # - Brooklyn Dodgers - Phenomenal!!! Sharp!!!Sandy Koufax Brooklyn Los Angeles Dodgers Hof Autographed /signed, Licensed 8x101961 Bell Brand #32- Sandy Koufax, Dodgers Hof Psa-41963 Post Cereal Baseball Card #121 Sandy Koufax NrmtSandy Koufax Dodgers Pin Cy Young Sga Dodgers Stadium Giveaway New1966 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax #100 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax (rc). Vg-ex+ 4.5 1963 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax Drysdale Gibson Ldrs #9 Psa 8.5 Nm-mt+ (pwcc)1961 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax Johnny Podres Southpaws #207 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1962 Topps #60 Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Hof Dodgers Psa 8 Nm-mt2013 Topps Triple Threads Black Blank Back. Sandy KoufaxSandy Koufax Hof 1962 Post # 109 - Blue Lines Around Stats - Sgc AuthenticSandy Koufax Autographed Index Card- Baseball Hof-dodgersSandy Koufax Cy Young Pin Sga Dodgers Stadium Collectiable1964 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax World Series Game 1 #136 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1965 Topps Setbreak Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Nl Era Ldrs #8 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1958 Topps #187 Sandy Koufax Psa 4 Set BreakSandy Koufax Dodgers Autographed/signed 19x25 Poster/photo 124136

Recent News: Sandy Koufax Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Davis returns to Kokomo
Kokomo Perspective, May 28th

“Naturally you talk about Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Ron Perranoski (reliever), Johnny Podres – the gentlemen who beat the Yankees in 1955. Maury Wills, the first to steal 100 bases. Jim Gilliam, who I think should be an MVP because he was just a...Read more

The most beautiful baseball book of the summer
ESPN (blog), May 27th

There has been a tsunami of baseball books released this spring, but the most beautiful and entertaining is Gary Cieradkowski's "The League of Outsider Baseball," published this month. Cieradkowski is an immensely talented graphic artist (he designed...Read more

Dodgers Dugout: Split decision
Los Angeles Times, May 18th

One very important person, however, isn't worried: Sandy Koufax. "Clayton is the kind of guy who's always trying to do better," Koufax told Times Dodgers blogger Steve Dilbeck before the old-timers' game on Saturday. "No matter how high you set the bar...Read more

Sandy Koufax says there's no need to worry about Clayton Kershaw
Los Angeles Times, May 16th

Sandy Koufax, a man who knows a little something about sustained excellence, almost fought back laughter. lRelated Clippers' Chris Paul, Dodgers' Yasiel Puig know agony of the hamstring · Dodgers · Clippers' Chris Paul, Dodgers' Yasiel Puig know agony ...Read more

A Student Named Greenberg Has a 'Koufax Moment' (VIDEO)
Algemeiner, May 15th

Don Greenberg (left) said he would not be able to use the microphone during his commencement address, which fell on Shabbat. Former MLB player Sandy Koufax (right) refuses to pitch in Game 1 of the World Series in 1965 because it coincided with Yom ...Read more

Collegian Finds Inventive 'Sandy Koufax' Solution for Shabbat Commencement ...
Chabad.org, May 14th

“I'm reminded of when Sandy Koufax refused to pitch during the first game of the 1965 World Series, which coincided with Yom Kippur eve,” says Rabbi Aaron Slonim, executive director of the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life at Binghamton ...Read more

Sandy Koufax won his final game at UC 61 years ago today
Cincinnati.com, May 14th

Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax won his final game for UC on this date 61 years ago today - May 14, 1954 - as the Bearcats defeated Lockbourne AFB 8-5 at UC. Koufax, a legendary Dodgers pitcher, was 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA with the Bearcats in the spring ...Read more

Burnett passes Koufax on all-time K's list
MLB.com, May 1st

Burnett tied Sandy Koufax for 42nd place on the all-time with his sixth whiff of the night -- of pitching adversary Lance Lynn in the fifth inning of the game with the Cardinals -- and passed him the next inning when Matt Holliday became career victim...Read more