November 18, 1966

On this date in 1966, the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax announced his retirement from baseball at the age of 30. The left-hander was coming off a season in which he won the National League Cy Young award, making the announcement that much more surprising.

Koufax decided to retire at such an early age due to chronic arthritis in his pitching arm that he felt could be further damaged if he continued to throw a baseball. He was the two-time defending NL Cy Young award winner and had just completed a season where he went 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts in 41 starts. He had 27 complete games, five by shutout and threw 323 innings on the season. Koufax helped lead the Dodgers to an NL pennant and World Series berth in 1966.

The left-hander was on a streak of four consecutive seasons with at least 19 wins, at least 220 strikeouts and an ERA at least under 2.04, winning the Cy Young award three times. Koufax played 12 seasons in total, finishing with 165 wins, 2,396 strikeouts and a career ERA of 2.76. He was a seven-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young winner, four-time World Series champion, two-time World Series MVP and a National League MVP. Koufax also had four career no-hitters and a perfect game.

In 314 career starts, he had 137 complete games, 40 by shutout. Koufax was known as one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers during his career.

After his retirement, Koufax became the youngest player ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 36. The Dodgers decided to retire Koufax’s number 32 along with Roy Campanella (39) and Jackie Robinson (42) in 1972. He was one of 30 players to be named to the MLB All-Century Team in 1999. Koufax has been around the Dodgers’ organization in various capacities since his retirement and in 2013, he was named a Special Advisor to Dodger chairman Mark Walter and was also seen working with pitchers regularly in spring training.

About The Author

Vince is currently the Associate Editor and Social Media Manager for Dodgers Nation. Hailing from San Pedro, CA and a student at Cal State Long Beach, Vince has previously written for the Daily 49er and LASF Magazine.

6 Responses

  1. Richard Moore

    Sandy Koufax is the best pitcher in Dodger history. period

    Reply
      • Richard Moore

        Well now you have your plow mule….CK….and….then there is Secretariat……Sandy….poetry in motion.

  2. Bob Padrick

    Sandy set the bar verrry high. He didn’t just get you out … he blew you away! He didn’t just win … he made you feel like you never even had a chance. 165 career wins … of which 40 were shutouts. That’s nearly 25% of his career wins! Who will ever do THAT again??? A career average of about 7 strikeouts per game. That’s about 25% of the outs in a game. And in 1966, his final season, 27 wins … 27 complete games. C’mon, that will NEVER be done again. Oh, there will be dominant pitchers again. But we’re never going to see the likes of him again. If you were lucky enough to see him, you’ll never forget it. I saw him many times on TV. One time in person. Both the crowd and the opposing team (Giants) acted differently than at any other game I’ve ever been to. He’s not just a baseball great or a baseball immortal. He’s one of the very few baseball gods.

    Reply
  3. Michael E Brown

    A truly gifted baseball pitcher and wonderful man. Carries himself with great dignity and honor. I was blessed to see him pitch when I was a little leaguer and he was at his prime. Thank you Sandy for all of the memories. Thank you for being the best Dodger player, ever.

    Reply

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