PHILADELPHIA – If Sandy Koufax’s arm injury during the third start of his 1964 season was an omen of bad things to come for the left-hander, surely the powers-that-be did not have the night of Thursday, June 4 of that same season to worry about.
In a quick hour and fifty-five minute game at Connie Mack Stadium, 29,709 fans saw Sandy throw the third no-hit, no-run ballgame of his career against the first place Philadelphia Phillies. The Phils third baseman Richie Allen had bragging rights, as he was the only member of the team to reach base, which he did on a full-count walk in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for Allen, he was then thrown out minutes later, as he tried to steal second base during the next at bat. Koufax dominated the rest of the night’s competition, striking out a total of 12 Phillies during the contest. The Dodgers won the game 3-0, with the help of doubles by Wes Parker and Dick Tracewski, as well as a homerun from slugger Frank Howard. This game proved to be the turning point of the left-hander’s season, as Sandy would win 14 of his next 15 decisions.
Pictured is Koufax as he is about to the deliver his final pitch of the night to pinch hitter Bobby Wine, who filled in for pitcher Ray Culp. Behind him waits centerfielder Willie Davis, who handled only one fly ball the whole evening. The scoreboard in Connie Mack Stadium tells the rest of the story, with the ominous 1 and 2 count against number 7. The Phillie would strike out swinging on just four pitches to end the game, solidifying Koufax’s third no-hit, no-run ballgame of his illustrious career. This mark tied Sandy with Cleveland’s Bob Feller for the most no-hit ballgames in the modern era, a record he would break a year later, with a perfect game against Chicago.
Koufax would finish the 1964 season with an impressive 19-5 record, though it was cut short by an elbow injury. The early exit by the left hander was certainly a major factor in the team’s weak sixth place finish. However, during this period, the kid from Borough Park found himself in the middle of six of the most dominating seasons any pitcher had ever had in baseball history. He won the National League MVP in 1963, and, in 1963, 1965 and 1966 won the Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes – an amazing accomplishment considering there was only one award for both leagues. In those three seasons, he also won the pitcher’s Triple Crown by leading the majors in wins, strikeouts and ERA.
His arthritic elbow would continue to plague him, and eventually, would prompt Koufax to retire at the end of the 1966 season, still at the height of his career. At the age of 36, he would become the youngest player elected into the Hall of Fame.