Saturday, January 11, 2014

SportsCentury: Sandy Koufax

I watched the ESPN SportCentury documentary on Sandy Koufax. ESPN ranked Koufax 42nd on its list of the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century. A SportCentury episode guide is here.

Koufax played his entire Major League Baseball career for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1955 to 1966. He retired at the peak of his career. In 1972, Koufax became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame at age 36 years and 20 days.

Koufax's career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from 1961 to 1966. He was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1963. Koufax also won the 1963, 1965, and 1966 Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes, making him the first 3-time Cy Young winner in baseball history and the only one to win 3 times when the award was for all of baseball, not just one league. In each of his Cy Young seasons, Koufax won the pitcher's triple crown by leading the NL in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average.

In his last season, Koufax pitched 323 innings with a 27–9 record and a 1.73 ERA. Since then, no left-hander has had more wins, nor a lower ERA, in a season.

With arthritis in his left elbow Koufax ended his career prematurely at age 30.

When I read Jane Leavy's biography of Mickey Mantle, I noted that she had a book about Koufax. I have this in my pile and will be reading it in 2014.

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