OTDIB – 08/16/1964 – Sandy Koufax ruptures elbow

The Dodgers were playing the Cardinals in a double header and ran into double trouble. Sandy Koufax was once again the best pitcher in the NL but had his season cut short because of a play as a baserunner in the 7th inning.  Koufax had walked and slid safely into second base as Maury Wills was forced at 1st base. He would rupture his elbow on a pickup play but stay in the game, not knowing he had received an injury that would plague him the rest of his career.

He would finish the game with thirteen strikeouts and a 3 – 0 shutout.  As I recall from his bio he woke up the next day with his elbow this size of a softball and would not pitch again the rest of the year. This kind of bears this out:

nor a badly ruptured elbow when he dove back to second base in a Tony Cloninger pick-off attempt in 1964, after which he had “to drag my arm out of bed like a log.”

The problem with this link is that Tony Cloninger did not pitch in this game.

So, let that sink in.

He had an injury that would finish his season, but he still pitched the final two innings to complete the game and shutout.

He would still lead the NL in ERA, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, and SO9.  It didn’t have any impact on the postseason aspirations of the current World Champions as the Cardinals had a double digit lead on them.

The Cardinals were loaded that year with 1964 MVP Ken Boyer and a center fielder named Curt Flood. Flood would have eight straight hits in the double header. He collected four hits in the first game against Koufax, and four more straight hits in the second game. Flood had eight straight hits in the double header before Ron Perranoski struck him out in the 9th inning.

Curt Flood was one of the most important players to ever play the game, and every single major league player from 1972 on, owe him an immense debt. 

Not only did Flood refuse to go, but he went to his personal lawyer and then to Marvin Miller, founder and executive director of the Players Association, and told them he wanted to sue Major League Baseball. The decision sent shock waves not only through baseball but ultimately through all professional sports. Those waves reverberate even to this day. And though he was aware that it would cost him dearly, he never wavered.



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