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Canford Braun was born on December 30, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York. His mother divorced his father when he was three. When Sandy was nine years old, he became Sandy Koufax after his mother married attorney Irving Koufax. Sandy played basketball at the local Jewish Community Center until Lafayette High School formed a team his senior year. He was a star of the team. In 1952, he went to the University of Cincinnati to study architecture on a basketball scholarship. He played on the high school and college baseball teams. In 1955, the Dodgers offered Koufax a $14,000 signing bonus ($121,000 today). Sandy planned to use this to pay tuition to finish his education, if he didn't make it as a pitcher. Sandy enrolled in the Columbia University School of General Studies to take night classes to continue his study of architecture.
Sandy would never get the opportunity to be an architect. He won 165 games and lost 87 in his baseball career. His ERA (earned run average) was 2.76. Sandy had 2,396 strikeouts in only 2,324.1 innings and pitched 40 shutouts in his 12 years with the Dodgers. Two of the shutouts were in World Series games. He won the pitching Triple Crown in 1963, 1965 and 1966 (strikeouts, wins, and earned run average). He won the Cy Young Award (best pitcher) three times, was an All-Star seven times, and was the National League MVP (most valuable player )in 1963. He led the National League in ERA five straight seasons from 1962-66, was the strikeouts leader four times and had the most wins on three times (27, 26 and 25). Sandy pitched four no-hitters,which is a National League record. He had a perfect game (pitching an entire game while allowing no hits and no walks) in 1965 . He was the sixth pitcher of the modern era and eighth in baseball history to throw a perfect game. He pitched in the Dodgers World Series wins in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965. Sandy became known “the man with the golden arm."
After retiring from pitching in 1966, Sandy worked as a broadcaster and a pitching coach. Sandy's #32 was retired by the Dodgers on June 4, 1972, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. At age 36, he was the youngest player ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Willie Stargell said, "Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork."
Richie Ashburn said, "Either he throws the fastest ball I've ever seen, or I'm going blind."
Gene Mauch said, "He throws a 'radio ball,' a pitch you hear, but you don't see. "