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"It was Milt Laurie, who delivered papers for the New York Journal-American, who first saw the potential in Koufax's left arm. And he saw it in the most prosaic way, during infield practice, when Koufax was a senior playing first base for his high school team, just whipping the ball around the horn. Laurie's sons , wally and Lary, also played for Lafayette. At their father behest, they recruited Koufax to pitch for his sandlot team."

Milt had been a prospect once for the Boston Braves. Just before spring training, his newspaper delivery truck skidded on a wet New York City street, flipping over and crushing his right side. He saw in Koufax the hopes and ambitionsof his own thwarted major league career. Perhaps this is why he saw what no one else did."

Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy By Jane Leavy
Last edited by Quincy
Originally posted by Quincy:

"Hit the strike zone? When Koufax first came up, he couldn't hit the batting cage." - Duke Snider

Reminds me of another lefty who took a while to figure it out, but when he did, was something really special. This guy couldn't hit the broad side of a barn when he first came to my home town team - his BB/9 was 7.9 in his first full year here. He turned out okay though.
Last edited by EdgarFan
Originally posted by EdgarFan:
This guy [Johnson] couldn't hit the broad side of a barn when he first came to my home town team - his BB/9 was 7.9 in his first full year here. He turned out okay though.

Well, I agree that accuracy wasn't his best attribute when he first went to Seattle, but actually his first partial year and his subsequent full year were 4.8 and 4.9. The next two seasons were the ones that aggravated folks-- 6.8 and 6.2. Then he figured it out.

I remember this because my brother-in-law and I took turns praising or denigrating him!
Last edited by 3FingeredGlove
Branch Rickey, then general manager of the Pirates, sent his son Branch Jr. and his most trusted aide, Clyde Sukeforth, to have a look.

Sukeforth spoke highly of "the boy's habits and disposition", dismissing as inconsequential the wildness "you expect from a boy like that" and the fact that Koufax got clobbered in a sandlot game later that day.

Sukeforth arranged a tryout in Pittsburgh in front of Branch Rickey. Sukeforth quoted Rickey as saying, "This is the greatest arm I have ever seen." But no contract was offered.

Koufax made a second trip to Pittsburgh with his parents expecting to sign a contract, but they left town without the anticipated offer or an explanation. Apparently Branch Rickey Jr. remembered seeing Koufax get shellacked at the sandlot game at Dyker Field and discouraged his father from signing him.
Last edited by Quincy
In 1962, he was 14-7 w/ an ERA of 2.54 with 216 K's (which nowadays would qualify him for contract worth $20 million/year!).

In the years that followed, here are his stats:

1963: 25-5, 1.88 ERA, 306 K's, 20 complete games ( he won both the MVP and Cy Young awards. His salary was $35k)

1964: 19-5, 1.74 ERA, 223 K's, 15 CG

1965: 26-8, 2.04 ERA, 382 K's, 27 CG

1966: 27-9, 1.73 ERA, 317 K's, 27 CG
Koufax attended Brooklyn's Lafayette High School, where he was better known for basketball than for baseball. He became team captain in his senior year, and ranked second in his division in scoring, with 165 points in 10 games.

Koufax attended the University of Cincinnati and was a walk-on on the freshman basketball team, a complete unknown to coach Ed Jucker, the varsity basebal coach. Sandy had heard that the baseball team would be traveling to New Orleans and Florida so he thouht he would try out as a whim.
I have my own funny little story on Sandy. We lived in Vero Beach for 10 yrs. My husband is a builder & built Sandy's home. My husband, being from the UK, Baseball wasn't a sport he followed then. Our sons were quite young & not playing yet. In all that time together, my husband never once talked about or even mentioned Baseball. Some time later, while at a 7-11, Sandy saw my husband & happily came up & talked with him, while people started gawking... Now, I am sure our sons, particularly our Baseball playing son would have loved for his Dad to have gotten an autograph! Not sure which Sandy liked best about my husband..
.his carpentry skills or that he never brought up Baseball, with him!
Irving Koufax decided that once Sandy started college, any further offers would have to be the $6000 minimum plus a bonus of about $16,000 to cover the cost of a college education.

A wild, hard throwing left hander who never pitched at a level higher than sandlot was now demanding money that would make him a major leaguer from day 1.
Al Campanis of the Dodgers was so impressed with Koufax arm that he convinced Buzzy Bavesi to pay the money that Irving Koufax wanted, $6000 + $14,000 for college as a bonus.

At the time, any player recieving a bonus of more than $4000 was required to spend at least the first two years with the major league club.

At 19, the wild thrower was a Dodger.
Last edited by Quincy
When Sandy was good, he was very good , but when he was bad he was very bad.

Koufax amassed a 36 wins and 40 losses record in his first six years averaging 5 walks per game. His saving grace was that his strike out average of about 5 per game was beginning to rise with each year.

It makes one wonder if a club today would have such patience even in the minors with such a fairly high priced ball player.
Originally posted by Quincy:
For whatever reason, Koufax was able to lower his walks per game to three in 1961.

Seemingly all other facets of his game were the same.

He won 18 and lost 13 that year and never had another losing season.

It seems those fewer base runners made all the difference in Koufax's career.

One of the things I spend a lot of time on, is showing how our pitchers do with runners on, and with no runners on. There are very few instances where pitchers do as well at anything WRO as without. You might want to see how Koufax(or anyone else) did during that period of time.
Actually, it wasn't just walks where Koufax improved dramatically. With the cutoff line being 1960, Koufax went from allowing 7.58 hits allowed per nine innings pitched to only 6.453 per nine innings. He also dramatically improved his HRs allowed rate from 1.143 per nine innings to only .640 per nine innings after 1960. These, as well as the above mentioned lower BB's rate helped convert him from struggling pitcher to one of the greatest of all time. Cutting his HRs in half really allowed him to cut down on the runs against him in the low scoring 1960's.
I think a big part of it was just Koufax somehow finally learning to harness his gifts. Since he went straight to the Major Leagues and then was used erratically with no time to learn in the minors, it's almost a wonder that he didn't fail as a pitcher. The bonus rule was cruel in that the very best prospects were offered the most money which then required two years in the Major Leagues and ruined most of them. Koufax, Killebrew, and Kaline were among the few who overcame this destructive rule. Maybe as long as your surname started with a "K" you were safe! Smile
Last edited by Three Bagger

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