Story of the Week

SANDY KOUFAX

    Itís baseball season again. Every year at this time, major league teams start the long process of 162 games during the regular season. Then some of the teams reach the playoffs. And two, of course, square off in the World Series.

    At this point, and only at this point, in the season, the teams are on equal ground. Even the Dodgers right now are in the pennant race; the operative words here are "right now". But soon enough, the cream will find its way to the top of the baseball cup, and I suspect it will not be the L.A. representatives.

    It wasnít always like this in L.A. We Dodger fans once had great pride in a proud team. We once had a real chance to win the championship each year. We once had all the ingredents of a championship team. And we once had the subject of this article, one of the two greatest pitchers Iíve ever seen, and the best left-hander Iíve ever seen. We once had Sandy Koufax.

    Who can argue about the credentials of Sandy Koufax?! With four no-hitters, the youngest player ever admitted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 40 shut-outs for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cy Young Award winner three times in four seasons, Sporting News Pitcher of the Year every year from 1963 to 1966, and one of baseballís all-time leading strike-out pitchers, Sandy Koufax was able to give the Dodgers the credibility of being a pennant contender all by himself.

    Of course, Koufax had a fine supporting cast, but when a team has a pitcher of this great magnitude, the teamís anticipated wins can be greater, and the slides are inevitably shortened. A Sandy Koufax can be counted on to prevent an extended losing streak with his magical arm. That is a great psychological lift. Contending teams need this to stay in the race and succeed.

    Sandy Koufax pitched for the Dodgers for 12 years, three in Brooklyn and nine in L.A. He pitched in 397 games, struck out 2396 batters, had a 3:1 strikeouts-versus-walks ratio, and averaged over one strikeout per each of his innings pitched. He compiled a 2.76 career earned run average. But itís those 40 shut-outs and four no-hitters that mark his career.

    Koufax was to the pitching mound what Frank Sinatra was to the stage. He left us with great memories. He hasnít pitched since 1966, but I still miss him. It just doesnít get any better than Sandy Koufax.

Last Weekís Trivia

    What former Chicago Bears wide receiver danced with the Chicago City Ballet? Willie Gault did it.

Trivia Question of the Week

    Who are the only brothers to homer in the same World Series game? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.