Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 24: Sandy Koufax strikes out 15 in 1963 World Series Game 1

Sandy Koufax
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the greatest moments countdown continues

In December, I asked you to send me your list of the 10 greatest moments in Dodgers history, and boy did you all respond, as I received 7,237 ballots.

The way it works: You listed your moments in order, and I assigned points, with first place getting 12 points, second place nine, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th. Add up the points and we get a top 25. We will be counting down the moments over the next few weeks, with No. 1 being revealed on or around opening day.

So without further ado, let’s continue the countdown.

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No. 24: Sandy Koufax strikes out 15 in 1963 World Series Game 1 (no first-place votes, 2,986 points)

Koufax strikes out 15

Watch highlights of Sandy Koufax striking out 15 (narrated by Vin Scully) by clicking here.

The 1963 World Series cemented Sandy Koufax into the national consciousness. The Dodgers ran away with the National League that season, finishing with a 99-63 record. Koufax won the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards after going 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts in 311 innings.


Game 1 was all Koufax as he struck out a World Series record 15 Yankees in a 5-2 victory at Yankee Stadium, including striking out Bobby Richardson three times, the only time in his 1,448-game major-league career that he struck out more than twice in a game. Clete Boyer was the only Yankee who did not strike out.

After the game, Koufax said he wasn’t even at his best.

“I felt a little weak,” Koufax said. “I just felt a little tired in general early in the game. Then I felt a little weak in the middle of the game. Then I got some of my strength back but I was a little weak again at the end.

“I lost my rhythm in the middle innings, probably because I was pitching too fast. And I got a little tired around the sixth and seventh. The fastball started coming back a little. After I got tired, I stopped throwing the curve so much. I was never worried about my control. The best thing about my pitching today was control.”

Koufax ended the game by striking out Yankees pinch-hitter Harry Bright for his 15th K of the game, erasing former teammate Carl Erskine’s name from the record book. Erskine had struck out 14 Yankees in the 1952 World Series.

“I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to get that 15th strikeout in the ninth,’ Koufax said. “But my emotions were mixed on that some.”

Yankees catcher Yogi Berra summed it up best after the game: “I wonder how come he lost five games this year.”

Your first Dodgers memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at Thanks.

Mike Roberts of Temecula: My first Dodger memory was when I was an 8-year-old living in Granada Hills and it was my first year in Little League baseball. My Dad got two tickets to the Dodger game and I will never forget that it was on the evening of July 29, 1963. This was my first time to visit Dodger Stadium and I had been listening to Vin Scully on the radio for a couple of years and seeing the Dodgers on TV when they went to play in San Francisco. Vinny’s majestic call of the Dodger games hooked me from the start and I read the L.A. Times Sports section every morning.

So, my Dad surprised me that he had two tickets that he had gotten through his boss at work. Sandy Koufax was going to pitch against the Phillies and I was very excited to see Sandy pitch. Little did I know that the tickets were Field Box seats three rows behind the Dodger dugout. I remember driving in on Stadium Way and seeing Dodger Stadium with the lights on. It was amazing. And then walking into the huge Stadium and seeing the most beautiful field I have ever seen, the grass was so green, the infield with the crushed brick, and how beautiful the Dodger uniforms were.

From where we sat behind the dugout, I was in awe of watching the windup and delivery of Sandy. It was a thing of perfection and seeing how hard he threw. And of course we brought our radio to hear Vin call the game that the Dodgers won 6-2 and Sandy went nine innings, striking out a bunch of Phillies. And seeing the Dodgers hit a couple of home runs just added to the an incredible time with my Dad. Thanks Dad.

Ray Wilkins of Oakdale: I’ve been a Dodgers fan since 1953. My dad was a big Cardinal fan and just loved Stan Musial. We had a lot of fun kidding each other as to who had the best team. Both were pretty darn good. In 1962, I graduated from college in SoCal and my folks came to my graduation. I got two tickets to a Dodgers game and guess who was in town, the Cardinals. As karma would have it, Koufax vs. Gibson with Stan the man playing left field. It was a great game. The Dodgers won 1-0 on a Tommy Davis walk-off home run in the bottom of ninth inning. To make the night complete, Musial had two hits off Koufax.


And finally

Rick Monday, Steve Yeager, Jay Johnstone and Jerry Reuss sing “We are the Champions” on “Solid Gold.” Watch it here.

Until next time...

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