Sandy Koufax Rookie Card
The Dodgers, Pirates, and Braves entered a bidding war for the rights to sign Sandy Koufax, but on December 14, 1954, Sandy Koufax opted to sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He never spent a day in the minors, and he has one official rookie card.
The Evolution of Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax debuted in the MLB on June 24, 1955, but he struggled his first two years in the league, in fact, he couldn’t find the strike zone to save his life but he watched, observed and learned.
The result? He evolved into the most dominating pitcher, without a doubt and with no equal.
Between 1960-65 he was the best of the best and dominated like no one had ever seen, he led in every statistical category too. His arm was given the nickname, “The Left Arm of God” for his ability to leave batters baffled.
Sandy was best when it counted most, in 7 World Series games he has 61 strikeouts and a .095 ERA!
Since he reached stardom at the peak of the television era whenever the Dodgers were nationally televised, and Sandy was pitching, you didn’t miss that game. His ability on the mound captivated the nation.
The great Willie Mays speaks of his experience with Sandy Koufax and has said,
“Sandy would strike me out 2-3 times a game. And I knew every pitch he was going to throw, fastball, breaking ball, you knew it was coming and he would even let you look at it, but I still couldn’t hit it.”
Opponents who have squared up against Koufax have testified that his pitches had a little more zip, a little more spin and his curveball was a thing of absolute beauty.
Sandy’s Struggles & Concerns
Sandy always tried to avoid the limelight, he was a perfectionist, an extremely personal guy who moved frequently.
He didn’t need to be recognized and preferred to just blend in with the crowd.
Sandy Koufax only played in the major leagues for 12 years. Towards the end of his career, he pitched with extreme arm pain and had to use multiple cortisone shots to deal with chronic pain.
Concerned about his life after baseball Sandy shocked the baseball world and opted to go out on top and retired after the 1966 season.
Career Stats & Accomplishments
Career stats are Wins 165 | Loses 87 | ERA 2.76 | Strikeouts 2,396
Accomplishments despite retiring after only 12 years:
- 7x All-Star
- 4x World Series Champion
- 2x World Series MVP
- 1963 NL MVP
- 3x Cy Young Award
- 3x Triple Crown
- 4 No-Hitters
- 1 Perfect Game, September 9, 1965
Official Rookie Card of Hall of Famer
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The 1955 Topps set was the smallest ever printed by Topps, only 206 cards made up the complete set.
The odd number was caused by four cards that were never issued for the set: #’s 175, 186, 203 & 209, it’s believed this was caused by contractual issues with certain players.
The set is still only a 210 card set perhaps Topps had their hands full with the acquisition of rival Bowman.
The card design is unique because it is the first time Topps designed an all horizontal set. However, the overall design of the card front resembles the 1954 Topps offering quite a bit.
The photos and team emblems were rearranged but the card photos were repeats of the 54′ set – not cool Topps!
The card back I absolutely love. Notice the card number inside the baseball, this is classic Topps vintage! And my personal favorite, those vintage cartoons offering collectors a bit of baseball trivia.
The rookie card of Sandy Koufax is a work of art and offers collectors an action pose, facsimile autograph, put it all together and what you have is one of the greatest cards in baseball card collecting history – of one of the greatest baseball players in history.
As of July 2020, raw copies sell in the $50-$215 range depending on the condition of course. Graded Very Good copies (3s) sell for $450-$550, Excellent copies (5s) sell between $860-$1,029, and Near Mint copies (7s) sell in the $2,900-$3,950 respectively.
In 1956, Topps opted not to recycle photos. The portrait portion of the cards do not appear to be painted but appear more like real photographs over a painted action background.
The card back is amazing with lots of commentary cartoons, player bio, and stats. Lots of eye-appeal with these and a collector favorite for many years.
There is a variant for the card back on this one. The more popular gray back and a variant white back.
These can be a slightly more affordable option for collectors too. The young Sandy with fuzz on his upper lip can be purchased for $40-$140 for raw copies.
Graded (gray backs) Excellent copies (5s) sell for $210-$260, Near Mint copies (7s) sell for $480-$610, and Near Mint copies (8s) $1,000-$1,375.
Lots of changes in the 1957 set. The card sizes were reduced to 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 which is an industry-standard to this day. Also, Topps moved away from painted portraits and utilized real-time photography.
The card front features a great looking portrait of Sandy Koufax. The card back appears to give collectors lots of commentaries, player bio, stats, and a trivia cartoon.
This one too is an affordable option capturing Sandy in his early years. Raw copies sell between $40-$80. Graded Excellent copies (5s) sell for $200-$250 and Near Mint copies (7s) sell in the $550-$775 range.