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Sandy Koufax Reaches New Level of Excellence

July 1, 1962 - When the Dodgers signed Sandy Koufax eight years ago, they knew he had enormous potential. The trick was to harness it. It has taken Koufax more than seven seasons to reach the point where one National League manager last week described him as “probably the greatest pitcher in baseball today.” That is certainly what he looked like last night, when he pitched his first no-hitter and struck out 13 Mets. “The turning point,” said Koufax today, “was in spring training last year. I decided I wasn’t going to try to throw the ball past every hitter. I discovered I could throw pretty well to spots. That’s the first time I ever really was a pitcher, not just a thrower.” The less that Sandy tried to fire every pitch past the hitter, the more hitters the lefty struck out. Last season, he broke Christy Mathewson’s National League strikeout record by fanning 269 batters. This year, with 183 strikeouts in less than half a season, Koufax is threatening Bob Feller’s major league record of 348. Sandy is the only major leaguer ever to strike out 18 batters in two different games, and his strikeout average of nearly 11 in each 9 innings is the best in big league history.

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