Last summer I read a great book about Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy. In the book she detailed just how bad Koufax was hurting near the end of his career. She really went into detail about the 1965 season, and how much pain he must have been in every time he took the hill. The Dodgers tried to protect him by going to a five man rotation. Of course today this seems normal. After throwing a complete game in Spring Training his arm turned black and swelled up. He was told that he would be lucky to pitch once a week, and that he would eventually loose the use of his arm. Newspapers were predicting the demise of Sandy. Of course he went on to throw 335 innings and strike out a record 382 men. He also led the league in wins and ERA. He also threw a perfect game in September. I guess pain is what you make it. When asked about throwing in pain Koufax just said “my heroism is greatly overstated.” With this in mind it makes it even more improbable that Koufax was pitching in game seven against the Twins. He sat out game one because it fell on Yom Kippur. He the pitched game two, and lost to Jim Kaat. With the series tied at two he pitched a complete game shutout in game 5. With his arm troubles many would have predicted that this was the last time Koufax would pitch in 1965. The Dodgers had another great arm on full rest in Don Drysdale so he would probably get the ball. Manager Walter Alston rolled the dice though and put Koufax on the mound on only two days rest. Continue reading
Thirty seven years ago today Hammerin’ Hank hit #715 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hank spent the entire off season just one home run shy of the Babe. The buildup of pressure during those months had to be something else. Hank came out on Opening Day and tied the Babe. That set up this game, and the moment that we all know so well. Barry Bonds has since passed Hank, but for some reason the record by Hank means more to me. Growing up the numbers 714 and 715 meant something. They still do today. Continue reading
Today while watching the Dodgers game on the MLB Network they announced that Duke Snider had died. “The Duke of Flatbush” was 84. He was the last big name player from the famous ‘Boys of Summer’ teams of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was also immoritlized in the now famous song “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.” All three of those centerfielders played in New York in the 50’s. Could you imagine one city having three Hall of Fame outfielders now? It was something truly special that brings you back to the glory days of baseball. I am not old enough to remember them firsthand so all I can do is go by what I have read and heard. It had to be a great time to be a fan of the sport, and one more hero from that era is now gone. Willie Mays is now the lone surviving member of that great New York outfield.