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.
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.
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Recent News: Sandy Koufax Memorabilia
Source: Google News
Sandy Koufax: Five amazing moments in the pitcher's legendary careerNew York Daily News, August 31st
Sandy Koufax's career might have ended before anyone was ready to see him go, but the legendary lefty still managed to pitch his way into the Hall of Fame with countless superb performances. On August 31, 1959, the Dodgers ace — two seasons after the ...Read more
Jake Arrieta meets the momentChicago Tribune (blog), August 30th
Jake Arrieta finally delivered the no-hitter he has threatened several times the last few seasons. On the same mound where Sandy Koufax was perfect against the Cubs almost 50 years ago, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta made some history of his own Sunday...Read more
Fifty years after Giants' Juan Marichal hit Dodgers' John Roseboro with a bat ...Los Angeles Times, August 22nd
Fifty years ago this weekend, the San Francisco Giants' Juan Marichal brought a baseball bat down upon the head of the Dodgers' John Roseboro in a pounding moment in sports history. It was a brawl that forever defined one of sports' fiercest rivalries...Read more
Clayton Kershaw ties a Sandy Koufax record as Dodgers beat Nationals 3-0 ...NOLA.com, August 12th
LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw tied Sandy Koufax's franchise record of six straight 200-strikeout seasons while tossing eight scoreless innings, and NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 3-0 on Wednesday night...Read more
Seen on Scene: Sandy Koufax World SeriesExaminer Enterprise, August 8th
Baseball fans enjoy the Sandy Koufax World Series held at Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium in downtown Bartlesville. To view a gallery of photos from the tournament, visit http://eephotos.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=1962643&Categor...Read more
Koufax provides nearly $1M in local impactExaminer Enterprise, August 6th
“The Sandy Koufax World Series went from $260,000 economic impact in 2014 to $932,000 this year (including the qualifier),” said BSC member Debbie Mueggenborg. “What a difference a few out-of-town guests can make. This tournament, plus the Winget, ...Read more
They're gr-r-reat! Tigers win Sandy Koufax World SeriesExaminer Enterprise, August 3rd
Patrick Vandenbergh, the catcher for the Nashville Knights, looks for a throw as a runner scores for the Dallas Tigers during the Tigers' four-run outburst in the fifth inning of Sunday's championship contest in the Sandy Koufax World Series. The five...Read more
Tigers await next Sandy Koufax World Series challengeExaminer Enterprise, August 1st
Three first-inning runs wound up being the difference for the Bartlesville Bruins in their second appearance at the 2015 Sandy Koufax World Series. The local team in the 14-and-under national tournament was eliminated from contention Friday night by a...Read more