Greatest sports figures in L.A. history, No. 1: Sandy Koufax
Concluding our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history, as chosen in voting by our online readers, with No. 1, Sandy Koufax.
No. 1 Sandy Koufax (320 first-place votes, 8,720 points)
Considered by many the greatest left-handed pitcher in baseball history, former Dodger Sandy Koufax was the runaway winner in reader voting, receiving 57 more first-place votes than Vin Scully, and 90 more than Magic Johnson.
Koufax's career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from 1961 to 1966, before arthritis in his left elbow ended his career at age 30. He was named the Cy Young Award winner in 1963, 1965, and 1966 by unanimous votes, making him the first three-time Cy Young winner in baseball history. In each of his Cy Young seasons, Koufax won the pitcher's triple crown by leading the league in wins, strikeouts and earned-run average.
Koufax was the first major leaguer to pitch four no-hitters, one of them a perfect game.
Because he retired so young, he became the youngest player ever elected to the Hall of Fame when he was inducted at the age of 36 in 1972.
Koufax won Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, pitching on two days' rest and throwing a three-hit shutout against the Minnesota Twins.
In his 12-season career, Koufax had a 165–87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games and 40 shutouts. He was the first pitcher to average fewer than seven hits allowed per nine innings pitched in his career (6.79) and to strike out more than nine batters (9.28) per nine innings pitched in his career.
-- Houston Mitchell
Photo: Sandy Koufax in 1966. Credit: Malcolm Emmons / US Presswire