Plagued With Sore Arm
The strain of throwing 90-mph fastballs, however, soon caught up with Koufax. His arm muscles tore and his elbow cartilage broke down causing inflammation. Koufax sat out part of the 1964 season, though he still pitched to a 19-5 record.
Koufax's arm continued to pester him during the 1965 season. To ease the painful swelling, Koufax marinated his body with a skin-searing ointment called Capsolin. He gobbled codeine along with an anti-inflammatory medicine used to treat thoroughbred horses. The medicines sickened Koufax and slowed his reaction time.
Koufax's 1965 stats obscured his pain. His record stood at 26-8 at the start of the World Series, when the Dodgers faced the Minnesota Twins. The first game was held on Yom Kippur, and Koufax refused to pitch, becoming a hero to legions of American Jews. In the end, he won two games in the series, helping the Dodgers secure the championship.
In 1966, Koufax pitched to a 27-9 record and shocked the world by announcing his retirement because he faced the prospect of losing the use of his arm if he kept pitching. Unfortunately, Koufax lived before laparoscopic surgery could have fixed his arm and kept him pitching for years to come.