Sandy Koufax turns 80 tomorrow and, to celebrate, MLB Network will be re-airing an interview from July featuring him, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench and Willie Mays and hosted by Bob Costas.
Koufax’s impact on the Dodgers and the game of baseball is lasting and indelible. Even now, when Clayton Kershaw is pitching at his absolute best, fans and MLB historians alike think back to how dominant Koufax was in his prime.
In the interview, Koufax talks about facing Aaron and Mays, two of the greatest hitters in the sport’s history, along with what he saw of Bench from afar.
“With both of these guys [Aaron and Mays], what you did was you got the guy in front of them out.
“I think I was more afraid of Hank and more respectful of Willie – it’s hard to say. They’re gonna hit you. There’s nothing in the lineup card about who you have to get out, you have to get 27 outs. They both were as good as there was in baseball at that time, with maybe the addition of Roberto [Clemente] in Pittsburgh. I just tried my best not to have them be in a position to beat me. Johnny I never played against, but I watched him and he did amaze me with the fact that he caught so well. … He got rid of the ball in a hurry, and that’s the only way a catcher’s gonna throw you out.”
The interview was part of the “MLB Network Presents” series and based off MLB’s “Franchise Four” campaign honoring the game’s four greatest living players. For a month, more than 25.5 million fans voted as part of the process, and it’s hard to argue with the results.
Below is a video preview of the interview, which airs on MLB Network tonight (Tuesday night) at 6:00 PM PST.