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.