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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Game Of The Week: Koufax Dominates Twins, Game 7, 10/14/65 Part 3

[Reposted, added photos, Nov. 19, 2011]

The classic form on the
Met Stadium mound,
Oct. 14, 1965...casting a
legendary shadow on that
early fall day.
Sandy Koufax was the "Left Hand of God," pitching on a cool, partly cloudy day at Met Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Oct. 14, 1965 (game description at BBRef). This day assured his place at the top of the list among his era's pitching greats.

If I hadn't been knee-high to a grasshopper, I would have been glued to the TV set watching this contest, forty miles away. Now, only videos like this Hall of Fame bio clip give an idea of his dominance of hitters like Oliva and Allison in that series.

Dodgers Manager Walter Alston had seriously considered pitching the team's formidable right hander, Don Drysdale, instead. That would have been the safe, logical choice, as the "Big D" had three days rest since his last start.

Chucking logic, choosing intuition, he opted for Koufax and his two days of rest for that big game against the big bats of Killebrew, Oliva, Allison, Battey, Versalles and Mincher. It payed off handsomely (view game video from previous post - July, 2011) as Koufax came through with this pitching line:

Narrative of pre/post game, the choice of Koufax as Game 7 starter at Jane Leavy's "Koufax," (Google Books)

Of Note: Koufax discovered during the early innings that he couldn't throw his world-class curveball (emulated and implemented by a then-Los Angeles-area high schooler named Bert Blyleven - a future Twin) for a strike. Fastball, curve - that was it in the Koufax repertoire. Discussing this with his catcher (future Twin John Roseboro) during a mound visit, Koufax bluntly stated "[BLANK] it, blow 'em away." Time for nothing but the cheese.

And while the Twins knew what was coming, it still didn't do them any good. Koufax went on a roll after Frank Quilici's double in the 5th inning, setting down 14 of the next 16 batters he faced. 6 of those were by way of strikeout. [Ahem] - I will suggest that THAT was not too shabby pitching.

Facing down Tony-O in Game 7. After the series, Tony
requested an eye check, worrying over why he wasn't
seeing the ball so well. "Tony," he was told, "it's not
your eyes - - it was Koufax." 

Yes, it would have been nice for the Twins to have put this game and series in their back pocket.

It would have been nice for the franchise to not have to wait another 22 years to gain their first World's Championship. Ah well. The Chicago Cubs are still waiting to play their first World Series game since '45.

And it's one thing to lose the championship, like the Red Sox did in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on a slow roller through the first baseman's legs to score the tying runs.

Koufax' emergence as the top pitcher of his era can be traced to a spring training game versus the
Twins in the spring of 1961.See the Baseball Digest story narrative from October, '61 at Google books.

(With thanks to ace photographer, Walter Iooss)
But it's another to lose to a legitimate pick as the most dominant left-hander in baseball history, like Koufax. To spout a cliche, if you're gonna lose, lose to the best. It's the stuff of legend.

As our old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, would say: "...And the count rides along." - TT

Below: cool "Boys Life" Koufax feature, the spring after he retired, March, 1967.
Increase the type size (click the "+"), then scroll around the document like a PDF.

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