“Ball four! Take your base,” the umpire shouted. The batter trotted up the first base foul line and took his spot on first base. The catcher Norm Sherry called for time and walked straight up to the pitcher’s mound.
He told the rookie pitcher to “just get the ball in the strike zone; we’ve got nine players on this team that can field.” The pitcher had walked three batters in a row, and the bases were loaded. The lefty pitcher took Sherry’s advice, and the next three batters that got up to the plate went down on strikes. For the rest of the game, Sandy Koufax was an ace pitcher.
Sanford “Sandy” Koufax was born Sanford Braun in Borough Park Brooklyn on December 30, 1935. From a young age, he loved sports with a passion. He was a very good athlete, and sometimes he would play sports in the streets or watch Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets field. His parents divorced when he was young.
But when Sanford was nine years of age, his mother remarried a lawyer named Irving Koufax. Irving adopted Sanford whose name was changed to Sanford Koufax. Then, the Koufax family decided to move to Long Island.
In school, Sandy won star athlete twice. He loved basketball the most out of all the sports he played, though he also played on the high school baseball team. His coach recognized his pitching ability. After graduating high school, Sandy decided to attend the University of Cincinnati. He played on the college freshman basketball team, but also made the varsity baseball team.
Baseball scouts soon took notice of Sandy’s pitching power. After trying out for several baseball teams, Sandy found himself playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Although Sanford was now playing in the major leagues, he had a very big problem. His pitches were all over the place. He needed to set up, calm down, and not throw as hard. Sandy was at first not a very good pitcher, but it was not his fault entirely.
Because he was not pitching well, the team managers did not want to pitch him that often. Thus, he was getting very inconsistent pitching starts. And that was not helping him improve his pitching at all. Koufax would later say this about how he eventually became a great pitcher: “If there was any magic formula, it was getting to pitch every fourth day.”
In an effort to improve his pitching, Sandy Koufax decided to work with a pitching coach named Joe Becker. Joe taught Sandy to throw more curveballs and changeups. At first, Sandy was wilder than ever, but then Joe taught him to relax and calm down on the mound. With all this training, Sandy was able to boost up his control. After six years of failure, Sandy was just the pitcher the Dodgers were looker for.
When the New York Mets became a Major League Baseball team, the LA Dodgers had to fly out to New York to play their first games against the Mets. Sandy was the first pitcher to take the mound for the Dodgers back in his home state: New York.
Sandy Koufax went on to dominate the pitching mound and really define what pitching a baseball is all about. He went on to win three World Series in 1959, 1963, and 1965. He won the CY Young pitching award three times and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award once in 1963. Four years in a row, he won 19 games or more over the course of a season. Through struggles and perseverance, he was able to dazzle batters.
During one season Koufax suffered a pain in his finger from a crushed artery he received when his bat broke during an at bat. This taxed his left arm greatly when he pitched. He developed arthritis in his arm, and it became swollen and painful. To save his arm, Sandy Koufax had to retire. But his legacy lived on. Those who had seen him pitch continued to marvel at the career of one of baseball’s all time greats: Sandy Koufax.
Summing it all up
Sandy was definitely one of the greatest lefties of all time; his calm and cool pitching job was fantastic. After retiring from the game, Sandy became a Minor League pitching coach and helped young rookies become betters pitchers. All in all, Sandy Koufax’s accomplishments were marvelous and unlike any that baseball has ever seen.