Koufax: 18 K’s, take two

On April 24, 1962, Sandy Koufax became the first major league pitcher to strike out 18 batters on two separate occasions.

Koufax led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 10-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. His first 28 strikeout game on August 31, 1959 in a 5-2 Dodgers’ home victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Koufax played for the Dodgers in Brooklyn 1955-57 and LA 1958-66, when he retired. He made four post-season appearances  and won three rings. The ace was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame as a player in 1972.

While Koufax became known for his pitching speed and command but he had a rocky start to his career. The LA times said he could pitch fast enough to knock a barn door down but was not accurate enough to hit it. Out of 12 appearances his rookie season, Koufax managed a 2-2 record and pitched two shutouts.

The struggles Koufax faced quickly became apparent. He hit rock bottom after allowing 100 earned runs in 1961 but bounced back to win 83 per-cent of his games and complete 11 shutouts in ’63. The ace totaled 40 by the time he retired.

Boston Red Sox Roger Clemens had two 20 strikeout games  and Seattle Mariners’ Randy Johnson commanded two 19 strikeout games since .

“Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork.” – Willie Stargell (21-season Hall of Fame player for the Pittsburgh Pirates who hit 475 career home runs) on Koufax

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LA Times reflects on the 18K game in 1999

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