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Sandy Koufax's perfect game

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sandy Koufax's perfect game
Sandy Koufax's perfect game was also his fourth career no-hitter, a then-Major League record
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago Cubs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1 1 0
DateSeptember 9, 1965 (1965-09-09)
VenueDodger Stadium
CityLos Angeles, California
Time of game1:43

On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched a perfect game in the National League against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium.[1]

Koufax became the sixth pitcher of the modern era, eighth overall, to throw a perfect game. He was also the first left-handed pitcher to throw a perfect game and the first pitcher to throw a perfect game at night. It was Koufax's fourth no-hitter, breaking Bob Feller's Major League record of three (a record later broken by Nolan Ryan, in 1981, who finished his career with seven). Koufax struck out fourteen batters, the most ever recorded in a perfect game, and matched only by San Francisco Giants pitcher, Matt Cain, on June 13, 2012. He also struck out at least one batter in all nine innings, the only perfect game pitcher to do so to date.

The game was also notable for the high quality of the performance by the opposing pitcher, Bob Hendley of the Cubs. Hendley gave up only one hit and allowed only two baserunners. Both pitchers had no-hitters intact until the seventh inning. The only run that the Dodgers scored was unearned. The game holds the record for fewest baserunners in a game, with two, and the fewest hits in a game, with one.

Koufax's perfect game is a memorable part of baseball lore, particularly since it was not televised. Jane Leavy's biography on Koufax is structured around a re-telling of the game. In a 1995 poll of members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), it was selected as the greatest game ever pitched.[2]

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Game summary

Koufax had not won a game in three weeks; not since Juan Marichal hit Koufax's regular catcher, John Roseboro, in the head with a baseball bat. The Dodgers were playing at home against the eighth-place Chicago Cubs. Bob Hendley, the pitcher for the Cubs, was just up from the minor leagues and had a 2–2 record.

Koufax retired the first batter he faced, Donald Young, a late season call-up, on a pop-up on the second pitch of the game. Glenn Beckert, another rookie, struck out looking at a curveball after hitting a line drive down the first base line just barely foul. The third batter, Billy Williams, also struck out looking at a curve ball. In the second inning, Ron Santo fouled out to catcher Jeff Torborg, Ernie Banks struck out on a forkball, and Byron Browne, during his first major league at-bat, lined out to center fielder Willie Davis. Koufax got Chris Krug to line out to center field to start off the third inning. Following him, Don Kessinger flew out on an 0–2 pitch and Hendley struck out. In the fourth inning, Koufax got Young to fly out to the first baseman and Beckert to fly out to right. Koufax then struck out Williams a second time.

In the top half of the fifth inning, the Cubs went three up, three down with Santo flying out, Banks striking out for the second time in the game, and Browne grounding out. By the bottom of the fifth, neither team had reached first base. That changed when Hendley walked Lou Johnson on a three-and-two pitch that could have gone either way. Ron Fairly dropped a sacrifice bunt that Hendley bobbled, leaving his only play at first base. On the first pitch to Jim Lefebvre, Johnson stole third base. The Cubs' catcher Krug threw the ball over Santo's head and into left field, which allowed Johnson to score. The Dodgers had scored a run without an official at-bat or RBI.

The bottom of the order came up in the sixth inning for the Cubs. Krug grounded the ball to shortstop Maury Wills, who threw it in the dirt to first baseman Wes Parker. Parker managed to dig the ball out to save the play and Koufax's perfect game. Kessinger hit a dribbler down the third base line, but Junior Gilliam was playing shallow (to guard against the bunt) and threw him out by half a step. Hendley, who still had a no-hitter going of his own, struck out on three pitches.

At the start of the seventh inning, Koufax threw one pitch that sailed past Young and went all the way to the backstop. He quickly recovered, however, and struck out Young. Beckert was next; he flew out to right field. Williams started out with three straight balls. Koufax's next two pitches were fastballs right down the middle. Williams let the first one go and fouled off the second one; he ended up hitting a pop fly to left field on the next pitch. During the bottom of the seventh inning, Johnson broke up Hendley's no-hitter with a bloop hit behind the second baseman. By the time Banks reached it, Johnson was on second base. Fairly grounded out to second, stranding Johnson on second base.

"Two and two to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away. Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch: Swung on and missed, a perfect game!"

Vin Scully's call of the final out of Koufax's perfect game

The heart of the Chicago order came up in the eighth inning, and Koufax struck out all three of them. Banks, who struck out for the third time, never made contact the entire game. The Dodgers went three up and three down in the bottom half of the inning. Koufax again struck out the side in the ninth inning to secure the perfect game. The final out was made by Harvey Kuenn, who also made the final out of Koufax's 1963 no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.

In the end, Johnson's hit was the only one by either team; the combined total of 1 hit for the entire game is a major league record. Koufax threw 113 pitches during the game, 79 of which were strikes.

The game was immortalized by Dodgers' play-by-play announcer Vin Scully who instructed the radio crew to record the final inning of the perfect game. He later gifted the recording to Koufax, as he had done so with the pitcher's previous three no-hitters. Scully's call of Koufax's perfect game is often cited as one of the greatest and most memorable calls in the history of baseball.[3]


Five days after the perfect game, Koufax and Hendley faced each other again, at Wrigley Field. This time, Hendley defeated Koufax by a score 2–1.[4]

Not until Chris Heston of the San Francisco Giants no-hit the New York Mets on June 9, 2015, would another pitcher complete a no-hitter by striking out the final three batters he faced, and the next no-hitter whose pitcher struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning wouldn't come until August 30 of the same season, when the Jake Arrieta of the Cubs no-hit the Dodgers — a game also played at Dodger Stadium.

Koufax also struck out at least one batter in all nine innings, the only perfect game pitcher to do so to date. The next pitcher to achieve the feat in a no-hitter was Nolan Ryan who struck out at least one batter in all nine innings of his first no-hitter; Jeff Torborg, Koufax's catcher during the perfect game, was also the catcher in that particular no-hitter.

Until Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies no-hit the Cubs on July 25, 2015, the perfect game had been the last no-hitter to be pitched against them. They had gone the longest of all Major League teams since a no-hitter was last pitched against them—a span of 7,920 games.[5]

In 2014, Koufax, Hendley, and Scully (who called the perfect game on radio) were awarded the 'Willie, Mickey, & the Duke' Award by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, an award which recognizes groups of people forever intrinsically tied in baseball history.[6]

Game statistics

September 9, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago (65–77) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Los Angeles (80–61) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0
WP: Sandy Koufax (22–7)   LP: Bob Hendley (2–3)
Chicago Cubs AB R H RBI Los Angeles Dodgers AB R H RBI
Don Young, CF 3 0 0 0 Maury Wills, SS 3 0 0 0
Glenn Beckert, 2B 3 0 0 0 Jim Gilliam, 3B 3 0 0 0
Billy Williams, RF 3 0 0 0    John Kennedy, 3B 0 0 0 0
Ron Santo, 3B 3 0 0 0 Willie Davis, CF 3 0 0 0
Ernie Banks, 1B 3 0 0 0 Lou Johnson, LF 2 1 1 0
Byron Browne, LF 3 0 0 0 Ron Fairly, RF 2 0 0 0
Chris Krug, C 3 0 0 0 Jim Lefebvre, 2B 3 0 0 0
Don Kessinger, SS 2 0 0 0    Dick Tracewski, 2B 0 0 0 0
   Joey Amalfitano, PH 1 0 0 0 Wes Parker, 1B 3 0 0 0
Bob Hendley, P 2 0 0 0 Jeff Torborg, C 3 0 0 0
   Harvey Kuenn, PH 1 0 0 0 Sandy Koufax, P 2 0 0 0
Totals 27 0 0 0 Totals 24 1 1 0
Chicago IP H R ER BB SO Los Angeles IP H R ER BB SO
Bob Hendley 8 1 1 0 1 3 Sandy Koufax 9 0 0 0 0 14
Totals 8 1 1 0 1 3 Totals 9 0 0 0 0 14


  1. ^ "Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers Box Score: September 9, 1965".
  2. ^ "This Day in Sports". USA Today. September 9, 1999. In a 1995 poll of Society for American Baseball Research members, this duel was selected as "the greatest game ever pitched.".
  3. ^ "Vin Scully's greatest calls: Sandy Koufax's perfect game". USA Today.
  4. ^ Doyle, Gregg (September 9, 2020). "'Greatest game ever pitched' starred Sandy Koufax ... and my high school coach". The Indianapolis Star.
  5. ^ Clair, Michael. "What did the world look like the last time the Cubs were no-hit?".
  6. ^ "'Willie, Mickey, & The Duke' Award". Baseball Almanac.

Further reading



External links

This page was last edited on 24 September 2023, at 15:30
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