No discussion of the best pitchers in baseball history would be complete without including Sandy Koufax. Though arthritis cut short his career at the premature age of 30, Koufax accomplished some remarkable things:
- He won three Cy Young awards during a time when only one was awarded each year, not one for each league
- He was the NL MVP in 1963, something rarely accomplished by a pitcher
- He pitched four no-hitters and a perfect game
- He had a career ERA of 2.76
- He was the youngest former player ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Great American Things, March 26, 2010
Beyond his baseball exploits, Koufax earned a special place in American life by making a stand for his Jewish faith. The first game of the 1965 World Series, pitting Koufax’s Dodgers against the Minnesota Twins, happened to fall during Yom Kippur. Koufax would have pitched Game One, but chose to observe his religious holiday instead. The Dodgers lost, and fell behind in the Series two games to zero. But Koufax came back to win Game Five, and then won the deciding Game Seven though pitching on just two days’ rest. He earned his second Series MVP award for his efforts.