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Sandy Koufax beaned in the head, bloodied, by an Andre Ethier foul ball

Feb 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

Last year there was much rejoicing when, after many years away, Sandy Koufax returned to Dodgers spring training. This year they’re damn near killing him:



Can you imagine how fast Andre Ethier would be traded if he went and killed Sandy Freakin’ Koufax during spring training drills?

  1. halladaysbiceps - Feb 21, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Nothing could kill Sandy Koufax. He was the greatest pitcher of his generation, maybe the best of all times.

    • cohnjusack - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      Arthritis certainly killed his pitching career…

      • historiophiliac - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        How terrible would it be if Koufax became baseball’s latest concussion victim? Geez.

    • shutdownespn - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      Sandy Koufax was a very great pitcher, but there is zero chance we was the best of all time. He put up five-six years of elite production, aided substantively by the most pitcher-friendly environment of the past 100 years (Dodger Stadium, with its doctored mound, in the dead ball-like 1960s).

      There are pitchers who have produced considerably more value in their career (Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Bob Feller, etc.), and pitchers who have had better six-year runs than him (Pedro Martinez, most obviously). There are also pitchers who have had better career values AND better/comparable 5-6 year runs–Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (PEDs notwithstanding). I would say that nearly all of the pitchers i’ve mentioned by name here were ultimately better than Sandy Koufax.

      • rje49 - Feb 21, 2014 at 7:08 PM

        Have you forgotten the fact that Koufax had to retire while in the prime of his career? Try adding 8 more years of similar stats to his numbers and reconsider.
        One of his most amazing accomplishments was his game 7 shutout in the ’65 World Series in Minnesota- not Dodger Stadium- on 2 days rest! These days nobody even attempts to pitch on 2 days rest.

      • chew1985 - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        Shutdown is crazy. Six years of Maddux versus six of Koufax, especially in post-season play is laughable.

      • shutdownespn - Feb 22, 2014 at 3:12 AM

        @ rje40: You don’t get extra credit for what coulda or what shoulda happened. Well, maybe if seasons were lost to wartime service (Ted Williams) or to racism (Jackie Robinson). But you can’t just assume that Koufax would have had eight or four or even two more dominant seasons if not for being injured. Look at how many pitchers have fallen off a cliff unexpectedly–Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander (apparently), Kerry Wood, Denny McLain, Bret Saberhagen, Dwight Gooden, etc. When it’s gone, it’s gone, and it can go at any time.

        @chew1985: You don’t really deserve a civilized response, but nonetheless: Koufax’s best ERA+ (ERA relative to his league) was 190. That was part of a five-year run where he went 143-159-186-160-190. Roughly speaking, he was about 70% better than his average peer during that time ERA-wise. From 1994 to 1998, Maddux went 271-260-162-189-187. Roughly speaking, he was about 110% better than his average peer during that time ERA-wise. bWAR during that time was 40.2 for Koufax to 50.7 for Maddux. Koufax pitched in three WS during that span, winning two. Maddux pitched in four, winning one. You may choose to disagree with the numbers, but It is most assuredly not “crazy” to suggest that Maddux’s best five-year run was better than Koufax’s.

  2. kalinedrive - Feb 21, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    How come a foul ball never comes to my seat?

  3. kingscourt25 - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    See, Ethier can hit lefties

    • NatsLady - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:20 PM


    • twenty1miles - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      HAHA. Sure hope he’s okay.

    • 78mu - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Yeah, if they’re over 75 years old.

    • alwaysaharley33 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Now that’s funny!

    • m3dman3 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      Well played sir!

    • Jonestein - Feb 21, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      Well done, sir, well done.

  4. halladaysbiceps - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    If you look at Sandy Koufax’s stats on baseball reference, it’s a damn joke. Koufax was so good it’s frighting. In my opinion, he was the greatest pitcher that ever lived.

    • cohnjusack - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:46 PM


      Dodger stadium in the mid-60s was probably the best environment for pitchers in the live-ball era. It’s a place where offense went to die in an era where there sure wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of it. As is such, he “only” lead the league in ERA+ twice. HIs top year in ERA+ as 33rd best of the liveball era.

      Also consider this: His best three years, he put up a whopping 29.1 WAR.
      That is actually worse than the best three years of the following pitchers:
      Bob Gibson: 30.1
      Roger Clemens: 31.9
      Lefty Grove – 30.8
      Randy Johnson – 30.1
      Pedro Martinez – 30.4

      The argument that Koufax was the greatest ever largely relies on the theory that his peak was substantially the greatest, and therefore makes up for the lack of longevity. Instead, his peak was ONE OF the greatest, but probably not the best, and if so, but a very small margin. Therefore, I can’t agree that it makes up for the gap caused by his lack of longevity is made up for by this and don’t think he holds a claim to the title of “greatest pitcher ever”.

      NOw, as these things go, people will probably respond saying I think Sandy Koufax sucks or something. No, I don’t. He was unbelievably amazing. It’s just that people tend to ignore the era, park and longevity of his career when judging his place in history.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        You are grounded from beer for a month for that!

      • 78mu - Feb 21, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Koufax had a great run at the end of his career. Randy Johnson had a longer career and some great runs (especially 1999 through 2002) that make hime a top 5 lefthander all time.

        But look at Lefty Grove. His seasons from 1926 through 1933 and then 1935 through 1939 were better than Koufax’s peak (which is saying a lot). As a kid in the 1960’s I read a lot of books and stories about great baseball players and Grove is one that, as I got older and was better able to analyze and understand statistics, stood up as truly great for his time. Grove was basically as good or better than Koufax for twice as many years.

        I loved Koufax and as a 10 year old kid I couldn’t understand why he was quitting after such a great year. But it’s hard to argue Grove not being the better pitcher.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Feb 21, 2014 at 6:54 PM

        Cohn, you make some good points. I would suggest that the dimensions of his home park mattered little to his 382 strikeout victims that season. He’d have retired them on a Little League field.
        And look up Addie Joss to see another pitcher who was awesome for a few years but lacks the gaudy career numbers because he died quite young.

  5. themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    I had the same thing happen to me at a staff picnic. The young fella we employ for his skill at IT was the offender. As I lay in the grass, my hotdog somewhere in the field down stream of the ball’s flight, I could see faces hovering over me. Everyone of them registering concern and relief. Concern for me and my bleeding head, relief that it was not THEY that had beaned the boss. Eventually I took note of one face in particular. One that registered nothing but fear. To me, forever after, THAT is the face of information technology. I made him get me a new hotdog.

    Good luck with the melon, Mr. Koufax. If you like, I can have our IT guy bring you a hot dog.

    • halladaysbiceps - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      ??? You are either a Mayan or Batman. Otherwise, you might be the Riddler.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Not at all. I’m just the owner/CEO of a small service company and I happen to like baseball very much. getting nailed in the cranium by a batted baseball took no skill whatsoever. Merely an inattention to time and place, a lack of situational awareness and a testosterone fuelled IT guy. I suspect the presence of our chief salesperson (a former model of fetching ladies undergarments) had something to do with his vigour at swinging at baseballs.

      • halladaysbiceps - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        ??? Jesus H. I don’t understand a word you are saying.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:04 PM


        Me got hit-um in head by baseball

        Me fell down.

        Me employee, Computer Guy, had hit baseball and it had hit me

        Me lose hot dog 😦

        Sorry for your pain, Sandy Koufax. Me know the feeling.

    • happytwinsfan - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      i take it you forgave your IT employee for hitting you in the head with the foul ball, but would you forgive him for spending an hour or two a day on hbt?

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Actually, its his fault I’m here at all. he once directed me to an article here and I’ve been a sort of casual peruser/commenter ever since
        I like the young fella, too. he’s pretty smart at what he does and his quest to land the chief of sales has made for fascinating watching.
        As for the amount of time I spend on this site, I do believe that my early morning time (before we open for business) and lunch breaks are my business. Anyhow, back to work for me.

  6. ggallin4evr - Feb 21, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    That ball must have been anti-Semitic!!

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Well played, sir.

  7. plmathfoto - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    Bob Gibson would’ve come head high on Ethier on the next batting practice pitch!

    Seriously hope Sandy is ok.

  8. Professor Fate - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    “Sandy Koufax beaned in the head…” I immediately wondered why the hell Koufax was swinging a bat. Then I wondered what moron on the Dodger staff would throw anywhere near a legendary HOFamer. FYI, a “beaning” means being hit by a pitch, not a foul ball (or even a fair ball).

  9. Sign Ahead - Feb 21, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Is there some way we can blame Yasiel Puig for this?

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      If it involves speeding or overeating, yes.

  10. louhudson23 - Feb 22, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    The word “bean” is slang for “head”. The only place one can be beaned is in (or on) the bean……Pitchers who hit batters in the back,arm,ass,leg are not beaning anyone. Craig Heyward was beaned. Don Zimmer and Paul Blair were beaned. Tony C was beaned. And now ,the great Sandy Koufax was struck by a line drive in the bean.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      Guess what “beansack” is short for.

  11. doctornature - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    When I was 10, my grandfather took me to a College World Series game in Omaha.
    We were about 10 rows behind the 1st base dugout when a line drive hit the top of a seat in the row in front of us, about 3 seats to my left.

    It changed direction without slowing down much and hit me directly in my left ear., probably still going at least 30-40 mph I would guess. Damn near killed me. I am half deaf in that ear, but it is a good excuse when people call me crazy.

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