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Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 14: Sandy Koufax’s shutout in Game 7 of 1965 World Series

Sandy Koufax
(Associated Press)

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

I’m assuming everyone knows how this works by now, so I’m going to drop the explanatory introduction to these. If you need a reminder, click on any of the Nos. 20-25 greatest moments below.

Up next is a classic moment involving the best pitcher in team history.

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No. 14: Sandy Koufax tosses shutout in Game 7 of 1965 World Series (38 first-place votes, 6,545 points)

Sandy Koufax during Game 7 of the 1965 World Series
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Watch Game 7 of the 1965 World Series here.

The 1965 World Series between the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins was heading to a decisive seventh game. Dodgers manager Walt Alston had a decision to make. Who should start Game 7? Don Drysdale on three days’ rest, or Sandy Koufax on two?

“It will either be Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale tomorrow,” Alston said after the Game 6 loss. “I won’t decide until morning, maybe not until game time, because I want to think about it.”

Koufax wanted everyone to know that he was ready.

“I feel good. My arm feels good. There’s nothing to save my arm for after tomorrow. If I’m asked to pitch, I’m not going out there to lose.

Drysdale, on the other hand, was a little sore.

“My hand was a little numb pitching in the ninth in Game 4, but it’s OK, just a little tingling sensation at times.”

Alston went with Koufax, but he had Drysdale warming up in the bullpen in the first couple of innings, just in case.

He needn’t have bothered.

In one of the most amazing pitching performances of all time, pitching on two days’ rest in Game 7 of the World Series, Sandy Koufax struck out 10 Twins, including the last two batters of the game, and gave up only three hits as the Dodgers won the game, 2-0, and the World Series, 4-3.

What made Koufax’s performance even more amazing is that his arm was hurting so much, he couldn’t control his curveball. So he threw nothing but fastballs from the third inning on.

“I didn’t have a curve ball at all,” Koufax said. “When I threw it I couldn’t get it over. And those first few innings I really didn’t know how long I was going to last.

“Then I seemed to get my second wind. In the last three, the fastball seemed to move better and I got stronger.”

Paul Zimmerman, with The Los Angeles Times, then asked Koufax if he ever had other days when he had to rely exclusively on the fastball.

“Yes, but if I had a choice I’d rather not have it happen in a World Series, like it did to me today.

“I was worried in the fifth and again in the sixth when I seemed to lose my rhythm. When Walt came out to talk to me he told me not to try and get anything extra on the ball, just pitch to spots.”

And with that, Koufax cemented his legacy. Or, as Drysdale said to him during the celebration after Game 7, “You beautiful, beautiful fellow.”

Little did anyone know it would be Koufax’s last World Series victory, or that he only had one more season left in his amazing career.

Previous greatest moments

No. 15: Dodgers win 1981 World Series

No. 16: Roy Campanella Night

No. 17: Rick Monday’s 1981 NLCS home run

No. 18: Rick Monday saves the flag

No. 19: Winning the 1988 World Series

No. 20: Winning the 1959 World Series

No. 21: Sandy Amorós’ catch in 1955 World Series

No. 22: Cody Bellinger’s catch in 2020 NLDS

No. 23: Justin Turner’s walkoff homer in 2017 NLCS

No. 24: Sandy Koufax strikes out 15 in 1963 World Series Game 1

No. 25: Mike Scioscia’s 1988 NLCS homer

Here’s the skinny on Justin Turner

Los Angeles Dodgers' Justin Turner (10) and Max Muncy warm up prior to a spring training baseball game.
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner (10) and Max Muncy warm up prior to a spring training baseball game.
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

You may have noticed that there is less of Justin Turner to watch during spring training. Not because he is playing less, but because he has lost a considerable amount of weight.

Jorge Castillowrote about it here, Turner wanted to lose weight to increase his mobility at third and hopefully decrease the nagging injuries he has had the last couple of seasons. Watching games, it’s already apparent that he is much quicker at third base.

“He’s already made some plays this year that he didn’t make the plays last year,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So, I think that right now the lateral has been better.”

Turner: “It’s my job to be available every single day for Dave to pencil me in the lineup, and it’s his job to decide how many days he wants me in there. So I’m going to do everything I can to be available every day and not have anything physical be a setback.”

To lose the weight, Turner went on the Whole30 diet, a 30-day program that prohibits sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, baked goods and other temptations. He weighed 192 pounds when the diet ended last Wednesday.

Memories of Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Something that will make many of us feel old: This season is the 40th anniversary of the start of Fernandomania. In tribute to him, I’d like for you to share your favorite memories of Valenzuela. Did he make you become a Dodger fan? Share your thoughts and stories about him by emailing me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Please put “Fernando memory” in the subject line. A selection of them will run in a future newsletter and possibly in our print edition, where we will also pay tribute to him.

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 houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

And finally

Hank Aaron vs. Duke Snider on “Home Run Derby.” Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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