In honor of the sacred 50th anniversary of our Beloved Dodger Stadium, I will be releasing my top ten moments of Dodger Stadium history. Currently the Dodgers are casting a special vote on what the top ten moments of the last 50 years at the Ravine are. These are my top ten however. Please note these are mine, and mine alone. These are the top ten moments according to me, a lifelong fanatical Dodger fan, who has grown up in southern California. There are so many memories it is almost too hard to choose just ten. I will count down each one per day, leading up to the Dodger’s Opening day game April 5th in San Diego. Each one of these moments will make you smile, laugh, and will bring chills down your spine. Some of them may even take your breath away. Without further adieu, I give you the number Two moment in Dodger Stadium history: Sandy Koufax’s Perfect Game.
How can I describe a game that was perfection? Sandy Koufax’s perfect game was probably one of the greatest moments in Dodgers history. Dodgers hall of fame lefty Sandy Koufax, born Sanford Braun, pitched four no-hitters during his career, one of those was a perfect game. It is still to this day, the only perfect game thrown by a Dodger ever.
I don’t think I need to describe Sandy Koufax. He is probably the greatest Dodger pitcher ever to take the mound. On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs. Also on hand that night was my Uncle Mark Landers, who purchased a left field bleacher seat from saving up his paper route money. As a 13 year old boy, my uncle witnessed perhaps the greatest game in Dodgers history.
Of course, Koufax was my Uncle’s favorite Dodger and player of all time, and for good reason. Even with his arthritic elbow, Koufax was still nearly un-hittable. He only had two pitches. Fastball and Curve. Hitters could say they knew what he was going to throw. When he pitched a curveball, he would tuck his elbows in, a fastball would see him stick his elbows out. That didn’t matter though, because Koufax was so good, so dominating, batters still couldn’t hit him, even knowing what pitches were coming.
On this night Koufax would draw Chicago opposing pitcher Bob Hendley. He would match Koufax almost zero for zero, until the Dodgers scored the only run off of a walk, a sacrifice, stolen base, and an error. The only run of the game was unearned. Both pitchers had dueling no-hitters until the seventh inning.
The only hit of the game, a seventh inning double from Lou Johnson would not involve in the scoring. Bob Hendley pitched nine innings allowed just two base-runners. He allowed one run, on one hit, the run was unearned, he walked one and whiffed three Dodger batters, while Koufax whiffed 14 Cubs. This at the time was the first perfect game thrown by a left hander since 1880. Koufax would go on to finish the 1965 season with a 26-8 record, 2.04 ERA, 335.2 innings pitched, 382 whiffs, and a cy young award. Koufax would win three cy young awards, one NL MVP, four world series titles, three twenty win seasons, and three seasons of 300 whiffs or more. Koufax would become the youngest player ever to be elected to the Baseball hall of fame at age 36.
Lou Johnson not only had the only hit and walk of the game, he also scored the only run. In the bottom of the fifth inning he walks. Johnson is sacrificed to second by Ron Fairly. Johnson then tries to steal third base, and scores on a throwing error by Cubs catcher Chris Krug.
With the Dodgers up 1-0, that was all they would need. Johnson would double in the bottom of the 7th, for the game’s only hit. This is the only time in major league history ever, that two teams combined for only one hit through the entire game. The Dodgers finished with one run on one hit, to win it 1-0. Koufax retired the final six batters on strikeouts, including whiffing the side in the top of the ninth inning. The Dodgers would go on to win the pennant and the world series championship that year. Koufax who was always a very humble gentleman told reports after the game that he felt a little weak.
Sometime soon I am going to sit down with my Uncle and interview him and put up a first hand account of Koufax’s perfect game. Until then I am not going to say anymore. Humility was a huge thing for Koufax back in those days as it was for the greatest sports broadcaster on Earth Vin Scully. Both men would want me to just shut up and let the video play. I am making this post short and sweet just like Koufax’s perfect game. Note how Vinny kept mentioning the time on top of the scoreboard. On a Thursday night my Uncle Mark was one of only 29, 139 Dodger fans to witness history. The game lasted only one hour and forty-three minutes. Koufax’s fourteen whiffs are the most in a perfect game ever.
“Swung on and missed! A perfect game!”
I couldn’t find any live videos of the game online, but I did find a live audio recording of Vin Scully’s legendary call. Alright enough of my babbling, I will let Vinny take it from here….