Monday, August 5, 2013

Who Is The Only 300 Game Winner To Play With Sandy Koufax

I just finished reading Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy (P.S) and I have to say that Koufax is an amazing person aside from being one of the best pitchers in the history of the game. I have a bunch of posts that I want to write based on situations that Ms. Leavy writes in her book and I want to start of with a bit of a surprising question. Who is the only 300 game winner to play with Sandy Koufax?

Though I know the answer from having read the book, I decided to look at the teams that Koufax played with in his short but illustrious career. Koufax played from 1955-1966 for both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Looking at some of the amazing pitchers he played with: Don Drysdale, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Johnny Podres, Roger Craig, Ralph Branca, Sal Maglie and Claude Osteen, I had a hard time finding another pitcher that would become an eventual 300-game winner. I confirmed what the book had said when I searched the roster for the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers team and saw the name of a 21-year old rookie by the name of Don Sutton.

Sutton compiled a 324-256 career record in 23 seasons with the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A's and California Angels. In the only season that he played along side Koufax, Sutton went 12-12 with a 2.99 ERA in 37 games (35 starts). He struck out 209 batters while walking 52 and giving up 192 hits in 225.2 innings pitched for a WHIP of 1.081.

In what context did I find that Sutton was the only 300-game winner that played with Koufax? Allow me to let Ms. Leavy tell you as she did in her book:
In 1998, when the Dodgers retired Sutton’s uniform number, an invitation to the festivities never reached Koufax. O’Malley assumed Koufax knew he was invited based on an earlier conversation and did not want a form letter to be sent to him. So Koufax paid his own way, showing up at the stadium unexpected. There was no mention of him in the pre-written script. After the ceremony, Sutton told Koufax how much it meant that he had come. “How could I not?” Koufax replied. “You’re the only three-hundred-game winner I ever played with.” Leavy, Jane (2009-10-13). Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy (P.S.) . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 
There you have it. Don Sutton is the only eventual 300-game winner to play with fellow Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. I'll have more on Koufax in the days to come.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Sandy Koufax's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Don Sutton's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com