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Koufax Wins Hickok Belt

Jan. 21, 1964 - Sandy Koufax, the Dodgers’ brilliant record-breaking southpaw, last night became the landslide winner of the 14th annual Hickok “professional athlete of the year” award by an unprecedented margin. The 28-year-old Koufax, the second Dodger to win the award in the past two years, thus received outright the $10,000 diamond-studded, gold-buckled belt that goes to the winner. The presentation of the award was made at the annual press-radio club dinner in Rochester, New York. Koufax, who succeeds teammate Maury Wills as the top pro athlete of 1963, received 106 of a possible 125 first-place votes and a total of 344 points for the largest victory margin in the history of the award. The belt is donated by the brothers Ray (right) and Alan Hickok of Rochester in memory of their sportsman father.

Koufax told a crowd of more than 1,000 at the dinner that he was “thrilled” at receiving the award, despite the fact that he will have made approximately 30 banquet appearances before reporting for spring training. Sandy, who admittedly hasn’t thrown a ball since the World Series, currently weighs in at 195 pounds, or 10 pounds lighter than his regular playing weight. Koufax indicated that there had been no contract talk as yet with Dodger management, but added: “When I get back to Los Angeles about the beginning of February, the mailed contract should be at home.” “I made $35,000 the past year, and I don’t intend to ask for a ridiculous figure this year,” Sandy added. The Brooklyn-born left-hander, himself a bonus baby who never played in the minor leagues, had an interesting observation on the plight of today’s ball player: “I don’t believe you have to suffer in the minors to learn the ropes. Pitchers are better coached now, and they get ready for the big leagues much sooner.”

Other athletes receiving votes were: Y.A. Tittle, Jack Nicklaus, Jim Brown, Julius Boros, Oscar Robertson, Parnell Jones, Gordie Howe, Dick Weber, and Joey Giardello.


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