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 Sandy Koufax Rookie #123 Psa 5 (looks Like A 7++) See Scans!2011 Topps 1962 Retro Sandy Koufax Hof Los Angeles Dodgers Signed Blue Ink Auto 1955 Topps Complete Set! 210 Baseball Cards Roberto Clemente Sandy Koufax Rookie1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Hof Dodgers Rc Rookie Psa 5.5 Ex+ " Looks Nicer "Sandy Koufax Signed Autographed Uda & Steiner Framed M&n Dodgers Jersey2016 Topps The Mint Sandy Koufax Golden Engravings Autograph "hof 1972" 04/40 Sandy Koufax 2000 Ud Dodgers Master Collection Legends Auto Jersey Sp #/250 $7001955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Psa 71955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rc Rookie Hof Dodgers Psa 5 Ex " Super Hot Card "1956 Topps Sandy Koufax #79 Baseball Card Psa Graded 7.5 Nm++cond "looks 8.5"Sandy Koufax Hof Dodgers Signed 8x10 Photo Psa/dna Loa Coa Auto Autograph 1955 Topps Baseball Complete Set (210) W/ Koufax Clemente Killebrew Rc / Mays2014 Topps Finest Greats Black Refractor Sandy Koufax Hof Auto 69/99 Bgs 101955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Hof Brooklyn Dodgers Rc Rookie Psa 5 ExSandy Koufax 2013 Topps Museum Primary Pieces Booklet Auto Quad Jersey Sp #10/102014 Topps Museum Collection Sandy Koufax Hof Auto 7/10 Los Angeles Dodgers 1955 Topps Complete Set- Roberto Clemente #164 Rookie Sandy Koufax #123 Rookie2015 Super Break The Bar Sandy Koufax Cut Autograph 1/1 Bgs Jsa Authentic 2014 Topps Museum Collection Gold Sandy Koufax Hof Auto 4/5 Los Angeles Dodgers Sandy Koufax 2016 Topps The Mint Golden Engraving Autograph 01/40 Hof 19721955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rc Brooklyn Dodgers Psa Ex 3 Centered1955 Topps # 123 Sandy Koufax Rc *rookie* Bvg * Authentic Altered *Mlb Los Angeles Dodgers Sandy Koufax Bobblehead Sga Giveaway 2015 New In Box2011 Topps Tribute Sandy Koufax Hof Jersey Auto 26/75 Brooklyn Dodgers1960 Bell Brand Dodgers #9 Sandy Koufax Psa 4 Vg Ex 100650b2012 Topps Museum Collection Booklet Sandy Koufax Quad Jersey Auto 10/101963 Topps #210 Sandy Koufax Psa 7 Nm 100675b2011 Topps Tribute Sandy Koufax Hof Jersey Auto 69/99 Brooklyn DodgersSandy Koufax Brooklyn La Dodgers Autographed Rawlings William White Onl Ball2013 Topps Tier One Clear 1957 Retro Sandy Koufax Hof Auto 18/25 Dodgers2011 Topps Triple Threads Booklet Nolan Ryan Koufax Gibson Verlander Patch 3/31956 Topps Sandy Koufax Card Bv$350+1965 Topps #8 Nl Era Leaders W/ Sandy Koufax Don Drysdale Psa 8 Nm-mt1964 Topps Giants Lot Of 50 Baseball Cards Willie Mays Sandy Koufax Hank Aaron2011 Topps Tribute Green Sandy Koufax Hof Jersey Auto 46/75 Brooklyn Dodgers1957 Topps Set Break #302 Sandy Koufax Ex/mint 100317b1958 Topps Set Break #187 Sandy Koufax Vg-vgex U32919Vintage Sandy Koufax 34" Adirondack Bat Cracked Brooklyn Dodgers Hof 1955 Topps Set Break #123 Sandy Koufax Rc Psa 6 Ex Mt 1255c2011 Topps Tribute Sandy Koufax Hof Jersey 57/99 Dodgers Bgs 9 W/ 10 AutoSandy Koufax Autographed Baseball2012 Topps Triple Threads Legends Sandy Koufax Multi Jersey Hof 14/18 Dodgers1959 Topps Set Break #163 Sandy Koufax Psa 8 Nm Mt 1167c1961 Topps #344 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Card Psa 5 Excellent 2011 Topps Tribute Green Sandy Koufax Hof Jersey Auto 62/75 Brooklyn Dodgers2012 Topps Triple Threads Legends Sandy Koufax Hof Multi Jersey 30/36 Dodgers2012 Topps Triple Threads Legends Sandy Koufax Hof Multi Jersey 13/18 DodgersSandy Koufax 1955 Topps Rookie Card1964 Topps Giants # 3 Sandy Koufax ( Psa 7.5 ) Nm+ * Set Break * Hall Famer !2011 Topps Tribute Green Sandy Koufax Hof Jersey Auto 51/75 Brooklyn Dodgers1963 Topps Dodgers Big Three Drysdale And Koufax Psa 8 Nm - Mt # 4121959 Topps #163 Sandy Koufax Baseball Card2012 Topps Museum Collection Primary Pieces Sandy Koufax Quad Jersey Patch 22/252012 Topps Triple Threads Legends Sandy Koufax Multi Jersey Hof 16/18 Dodgers1965 Topps Sandy Koufax #300 Psa 8 Nm-mt **beautifully Centered & Sharp**1959 Topps #163 Sandy Koufax Dodgers Psa 4Lot Of (3) Sandy Koufax 1963 Fleer #42 + 1961 Topps #207 + 1967 Topps #236 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card Rc #123 Dodgers Hot !!!!2011 Topps Triple Threads Sandy Koufax Multi Jersey 3/3 Los Angeles Dodgers 2011 Topps Triple Threads Booklet Ryan Koufax Seaver Ford Palmer Jersey 30/36