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Culture

Sandy Koufax’s 10 Greatest Jewish Baseball Moments

1) September 9, 1965: Koufax pitches a perfect game (no hits, walks or errors) against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium, and sets a record for the most Ks in a perfecto by striking out 14 batters. The victory gives Koufax four career no-hitters, the most by any major league pitcher at the time.

2) October 14, 1965: Just three days after pitching a four-hit, complete-game shutout against the Minnesota Twins in Game 5 of the World Series, Koufax shuts them out again in Game 7, giving the Dodgers their second world championship in three years.

3) October 2, 1963: Koufax breaks Carl Erskine’s mark by striking out 15 batters in a World Series game, as the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 5-2 in Game 1 of the Fall Classic. (Four days later, he’ll pitch another complete-game victory to give the Dodgers a Series sweep.)

4) October 2, 1965: Koufax clinches the National League pennant for the Dodgers with a 3-1 complete-game victory over the Milwaukee Braves in the penultimate game of the 1965 season. Koufax’s 26th win of the year (against only eight losses) drops his ERA to 2.04, and his 13 strikeouts give him a major league record of 382.

5) June 4, 1964: Koufax ties Bob Feller’s major league mark by hurling the third no-hitter of his career, a 12-strikeout, one-walk effort against the first-place Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium.

6) August 31, 1959: In a brief flash of the brilliance to come, Koufax sets a NL record (and ties Bob Feller’s MLB mark) by fanning 18 San Francisco Giants at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. (He’ll repeat the 18-K feat against the Cubs on April 24, 1962.)

7) September 27, 1961: Koufax whiffs seven Phillies in his final start of the season, bringing his season strikeout total to 269, which breaks the NL record of 267 set by Christy Mathewson in 1903.

8) May 11, 1963: Koufax strikes out four Giants, walks two and gives up zero hits while hurling the second no-hitter of his career at Dodger Stadium.

9) June 30, 1962: Koufax posts his first career no-hitter, striking out 13 New York Mets and walking five at Dodger Stadium.

10) October 6, 1965: Putting his faith above his sport, “The Left Arm of God” declines to pitch the opening game of the World Series in observance of Yom Kippur.

Dan Epstein writes frequently about the arts for the Forward. His latest book, “Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76,” will be published this spring by Thomas Dunne Books.

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