Year
1965

Sandy Koufax pitches perfect game

On this day in 1965, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax pitches the eighth perfect game in major league history, leading the Dodgers to a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.

Sandy Koufax was a talented all-around athlete from Borough Park in Brooklyn, New York. His first love was basketball, and he attended the University of Cincinnati on a basketball scholarship. His impressive left arm, however, attracted the attention of major league ball clubs and in 1954 he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite his promising talent, Koufax won just 36 games to 51 losses from 1955 to 1961, and was incredibly inconsistent, blowing hitters away one game and walking in runs the next. Finally, advice from veteran catcher Norm Sherry turned Koufax around. As Koufax recounted in his autobiography, Sherry told him to “take the grunt out of the fastball.” It worked: From 1962 to 1966, Sandy Koufax executed what are arguably the five greatest seasons by a pitcher in baseball history. His newfound control limited his walks from 4.8 per game to just 2.1, and he pitched no-hitters in three consecutive years–1962, 1963 and 1964.

On September 9, 1965, at the peak of his baseball career, Koufax took the mound against fellow lefty Bob Hendley of the Chicago Cubs, and a pitcher’s duel for the ages ensued. The Cubs were held scoreless, while the Dodgers scored just one run, in the fifth inning. Dodger Lou Johnson walked to lead off the inning, and then advanced to second on a sacrifice. He stole third and then scored when the Cubs catcher fumbled one of Hendley’s throws. As it turned out, one run was all Koufax needed to bring home the victory. His fastballs, which seemed to rise as they reached the plate, whizzed past batters. His curveball was typically devastating, buckling batters at the knees, almost always crossing the plate as a strike after following its parabolic path. As he closed in on a perfect game, Koufax faced the middle of the Cubs order. He struck out Ron Santo and Ernie Banks in the eighth before striking out the side in the ninth to secure his first perfect game.

In addition to throwing his first and only perfect game, Koufax struck out a total of 382 batters in 1965, shattering Rube Waddell’s 1904 record by 32. He retired after the 1966 season at just 30 years old because of arthritis in his elbow.

Koufax won three Cy Young Awards (1963, 1965 and 1966), all of them unanimous.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972. In 2007, the Modi’in Miracle of the Israel Baseball League made the 71-year old Koufax the final pick in the league’s inaugural player draft as a tribute to his legendary career and Jewish heritage.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Riot at Attica prison

Prisoners riot and seize control of the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York. Later that day, state police retook most of the prison, but 1,281 convicts occupied an exercise field called D Yard, where they held 39 prison guards and employees ...read more

Chairman Mao dies

On this day in 1976, Chinese revolutionary and statesman Mao Zedong, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other health problems, dies in Beijing at the age of 82. The Communist leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China is considered one of the most ...read more

President’s child born in White House

Frances Folsom Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland, gives birth to a daughter, Esther, in the White House.On June 2, 1886, in an intimate ceremony held in the Blue Room of the White House, President Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom, the daughter of ...read more

Japanese bomb U.S. mainland

On this day in 1942, a Japanese floatplane drops incendiary bombs on an Oregon state forest-the first and only air attack on the U.S. mainland in the war.Launching from the Japanese sub I-25, Nobuo Fujita piloted his light aircraft over the state of Oregon and firebombed Mount ...read more

Ho Chi Minh buried in Hanoi

Funeral services, attended by 250,000 mourners, are held for Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. Among those in attendance were Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin, Chinese Vice-Premier Li Hsien-nien and Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. Ho had established the Indochinese ...read more

Hackney receives Medal of Honor

Sergeant Duane D. Hackney is presented with the Air Force Cross for bravery in rescuing an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. He was the first living Air Force enlisted man to receive the award, the nation’s second highest award for bravery in action. ...read more

DeBellevue becomes leading American Ace

U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles B. DeBellevue (Weapons Systems Officer) flying with his pilot, Capt. John A. Madden, in a McDonnell Douglas F-4D, shoots down two MiG-19s near Hanoi. These were Captain DeBellevue’s fifth and sixth victories, which made him the leading American ace ...read more

Cleveland baby born in White House

On this day in 1893, President Grover Cleveland’s wife Frances becomes the first first lady to give birth in the White House when the couple’s daughter Esther is born. She remains the only child of a president to be born in the White House. After spending the first two years of ...read more

Powerful earthquake rocks Algeria

On this day in 1954, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Algeria, near Orleansville, killing 1,600 people. Another 5,000 people suffered serious injuries during the strong tremor and series of aftershocks that followed.The Cheliff River Valley features some of the best farmland in ...read more

The Boston police department goes on strike

The infamous Boston Police Strike of 1919 begins, causing an uproar around the nation and confirming the growing influence of unions on American life. Using the situation to their advantage, criminals took the opportunity to loot the city.As society changed in the 20th century, ...read more

Mao Zedong Dies

Mao Zedong, who led the Chinese people through a long revolution and then ruled the nation’s communist government from its establishment in 1949, dies. Along with V.I. Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Mao was one of the most significant communist figures of the Cold War. Mao was born in ...read more

Yankees capture Chattanooga

Union General William Rosecrans completes a brilliant campaign against the army of Confederate General Braxton Bragg when his forces capture Chattanooga, Tennessee.The capture of Chattanooga followed a campaign in which there was little fighting but much maneuvering. On June 23, ...read more