The Dodgers held a tryout at Ebbets Field for a left-hander by the name of Sandy Koufax and it was on this day in 1954 that they signed that left-hander to a contract with a $14,000 signing bonus.
The move turned out to be one of the best signings in Dodger history, as Koufax became one of the most dominant pitchers in his generation. After tryouts with the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was the Dodgers that offered Koufax the contract and ended up with his services. The fact that Koufax’s signing bonus was more than $4,000 meant that he was considered a bonus baby and the Dodgers would have to keep him in the major leagues for at least two seasons before they could send him down to the minor leagues.
To make room for Koufax, the Dodgers optioned down a player by the name of Tommy Lasorda, who would eventually became a Hall of Fame manager with the team. The then 19-year-old Koufax appeared in 12 games for the Dodgers in 1955, including five starts. He finished 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched. The Dodgers would go on to win the World Series that year.
Koufax went through six more pedestrian seasons with the Dodgers before breaking out in 1963. That year, he finished 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts in 311 innings pitched. He was named both the National League Cy Young award winner and the NL Most Valuable Player award winner. The left-hander then went on to have one of the greatest four-year spans for a pitcher in history, winning 97 games and sporting a 1.86 ERA from 1963-1966. He added two more Cy Young awards and was an All-Star in each of those seasons.
He was forced to retire due to arthritis in his pitching elbow after the 1966 season but ended his short career as one of the most dominating left-handed pitchers ever.