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Sandy Koufax Biography

Preferred Basketball As Youngster, Overcame Ball-control Problem, Chronology, Plagued With Sore ArmSELECTED WRITINGS BY KOUFAX:


American baseball player

During his prime, Sandy Koufax dominated major league baseball with his powerful, yet fatally fragile left arm. From 1962 to 1966, Koufax pitched four no-hitters (including a perfect game) and struck out more than 1,400 batters, winning 111 games and losing only 34. What makes Koufax's story so marvelous, however, is his transformation. During his early years, Koufax struggled at times to get the ball near the plate. Yet in the end, Koufax tamed his fastball, prompting Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell to remark that hitting Koufax was like "trying to drink coffee with a fork." What Koufax is most remembered for, however, occurred off the pitcher's mound. Koufax became a hero for refusing to pitch in the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Koufax's dedication to his religion helped generations of American Jews take pride in their heritage. As quickly as Koufax's arm brought him into the spotlight, it also took him out. In the end, Koufax's arm proved to be as delicate as it was powerful. Arm pain forced Koufax into retirement in 1966 when he was only 30 years old and still at the top of his game.


(With Ed Linn) Koufax. New York: Viking Press, 1966.

Sketch by Lisa Frick

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Famous Sports StarsBaseball