The powerful lefty averaged only six wins per year for the first half of his career, but in 1961 Koufax began quite possibly the most impressive six-year span ever for a pitcher.
Koufax led the bigs in wins in 1963 (25), 1965 (26) and 1966 (27). His average ERA during his tyranny on National League hitters was an exceptional 1.99.
“I can see how he won 25 games,” said Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, whose Yankees faced Koufax in the 1963 World Series. “What I don’t understand is how he lost five.”
In 1963, Koufax also became just the second pitcher to ever take home an MVP and a Cy Young in the same season – after Don Newcombe did it with Brooklyn in the first year of the Cy Young Award of 1956.
Only Nolan Ryan had a better strikeout season (383 in 1973) than Koufax had in 1965, when he fanned 382 NL batters.
“Hitting against Sandy Koufax,” said Pirates slugger and future Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, “is like drinking coffee with a fork.”
Koufax became the first pitcher to reach four career no-hitters on Sept. 9, 1965, surpassing Larry Corcoran, Cy Young and Bob Feller.