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Sandy Koufax

Overcame Ball-control Problem

The inexperienced pitcher struggled in the majors. At the end of the 1960 season, Koufax was a career-losing pitcher with a record of 36 and 40. His mediocrity gnawed at him; Koufax considered quitting, yet had a change of heart and reported to spring training in 1961 determined to take responsibility for his career. He began to sacrifice speed for accuracy. Slowly, Koufax gained control of his unruly fastball.

Koufax explained his transformation in John Grabowski's book, Sandy Koufax, saying that he became a good pitcher when he stopped trying to make batters miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.

Koufax ended the 1961 season 18-13 and made his first All-Star appearance. He also fanned 269 batters to break a National League strikeout record.

In 1962, Koufax pitched his first of four no-hitters, and by 1963 he was at the top of his game, ending the season 25-5, with 11 shutouts. At 1.88, his earned-run average (ERA) was the lowest posted in the National League in 20 years. Koufax also led his team to a 1963 World Series victory over the New York Yankees by winning two games in the series. Koufax's stellar pitching earned him his first of three Cy Young Awards, presented to the best pitcher in baseball. He was also named the World Series MVP and won the Hickok Belt, awarded to the top professional athlete.


1935 Born on December 30 in Brooklyn, New York
1939 Parents divorce
1945 Mother remarries
1953 Enters college at the University of Cincinnati; makes basketball team
1954 Pitches only season of college baseball
1954 Signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers
1955 Makes major league debut on June 24 against the Milwaukee Braves
1959 Appears in World Series
1960 Nearly quits baseball due to poor record
1965 Arthritic arm plagues him during the season
1966 Appears in World Series
1966 Wins last major league game on October 2
1966 Announces retirement from baseball on November 18
1969 Marries Anne Heath Widmark on January 1
1972 Watches Dodgers retire his uniform number (32)
1979 Begins working as a pitching instructor for the Dodgers
1980s Divorces wife in the early part of the decade
1990 Retires from work as Dodgers pitching instructor
1990s Divorces second wife, Kim Koufax, in latter part of the decade
1990s Appears in charity golf tournaments
2002 Continues to help coach various struggling pitchers

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBaseballSandy Koufax Biography - Preferred Basketball As Youngster, Overcame Ball-control Problem, Chronology, Plagued With Sore Arm - SELECTED WRITINGS BY KOUFAX: