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.
“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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