Baseball BeatSeptember 09, 2005
It Was Forty Years Ago Today...
By Rich Lederer

Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on September 9, 1965. My Dad was in the press box that evening, covering the game for the Long Beach Independent, Press-Telegram. He was also the official scorekeeper. As it turned out, Dad didn't have to make any judgment calls that night (other than ruling an overthrow by Cubs catcher Chris Krug an error). All he really needed to know was how to record various outs in the scorebook, especially those marked by the letter "K" (as in Koufax).

In the "Best of George Lederer," I bring you another anniversary special from his archives. Here is the article exactly as it appeared in the Long Beach newspaper the following day.


Perfect Game for Koufax!


Sandy Koufax pitched his fourth annual no-hitter Thursday night and this one was the best. It had to be. It was perfect.

The great representative of the Arthritis Foundation set down 27 Cubs in an hour and 43 minutes for a 1-0 Dodger victory.

But it wasn't easy, by any means.

The Dodgers were held to one hit by loser Bob Hendley.

But they didn't need a hit for the run. Lou Johnson produced it in the fifth inning on a walk, a sacrifice, a steal and an overthrow of third base by catcher Chris Krug.

It was as unearned as Hendley's defeat.

The end of a three-game losing streak for Koufax came in dramatic fashion before a crowd of 29,139.

Koufax found his fast ball and the Cubs never saw it. Sandy struck out 14, the last six in a row. He ran the count full on only one hitter and Billy Williams flied out on that occasion to end the seventh inning.

It was the 10th perfect game in baseball history and only the second in National League regular season play since 1900. Jim Bunning of the Phils pitched the first one in the "modern" era against the Mets, June 21, 1964.

Koufax, the first to pitch four no-hitters in the majors, had no choice but to describe this one as his greatest.

"The one against the Phillies last year was the best of the first three, but this one had to be the topper."

It was the topper in every respect. There were only three groundouts and Koufax said, "This indicates I had good stuff. I had a good fast ball, especially late in the game. I felt loose and my control was better than it had been all year."

Koufax gave little indication at the start that this, his sixth try for win No. 22, would make history.

His first pitch was a curve that bounced off the plate and rolled to the backstop.

Glenn Beckert, the second batter, hit a line drive down the left field line that was foul by six inches.

Rookie outfielder Byron Browne lined sharply to Willie Davis in center to end the second inning.

And Koufax admitted his "heart skipped a beat when (Wes) Parker had to scoop up Maury's (Wills) low throw" after Chris Krug's ground ball in the sixth inning.

After that, Koufax said he had his best stuff.

"In the last couple of innings I just tried to keep the ball away from everyone. They had their big guys coming up, Santo and Banks, the guys who could beat me.

"Sure, I knew about the no-hitter. You always do. All you have to do is look at the scoreboard. Then, along about the seventh inning, you begin to think - well, maybe there's a chance.

"I never thought about the perfect game. Naturally, I tried not to walk anybody. After all, I had only a one-run lead.

"It's great to have a tight game early. It makes me bear down more. But later on, it's nice to have a four or five-run lead."

This was the tightest of Sandy's quartet of gems.

The first was against the Mets, June 30, 1962, and the score was 5-0. No. 2 was 8-0, against the Giants, May 11, 1963. Last year, on June 4, it was 3-0 against the Phillies. Last year's was the only one on foreign soil.

Only Cy Young and Bob Feller had pitched three no-hitters since 1900. Both are in the Hall of Fame, waiting to answer Sandy's resounding knock on the door.

The only other triple no-hit pitcher was Lawrence J. Corcoran, who did it for the Cubs in 1880, 1882 and 1884.

Sandy's last three no-hitters were caught by different catchers. John Roseboro caught the first two, Doug Camilli the one against the Phils and Jeff Torborg Thursday.

Torborg, a sophomore, was far more nervous than Koufax. He was still shaking in the clubhouse.

"I kept telling myself when (Harvey) Kuenn stepped up - 'only three more pitches.' Then, I realized how long that would be. Wow, three more pitches! I thought it would never end."

Torborg confirmed that Koufax' best pitch early was his curve "and later on, when he loosened up, his fast ball was great. He was exceptionally fast when he wanted to be. He started with (Ernie) Banks in the fifth inning. He struck him out on a fast ball that was unbelievable."

Banks was a three-time strikeout victim and Billy Williams and Hendley went down swinging twice.

The last six strikeouts were against Santo, Banks, Browne, Krug, Joey Amalfitano and Kuenn.

Koufax made seven pitches to Krug, starting the ninth. Amalfitano, who had a 4-for-6 pinch-hitting record against the Dodgers, batted for shortstop Don Kessinger and fanned on three pitches. Kuenn, batting for Hendley, struck out on five.

"I pitched to Kuenn with everything I had left," said Koufax. "They were all fast balls."

Kuenn also made the final out in the 1963 no-hitter against the Giants. The last time he grounded to Koufax.

For the first time in his no-hitters, Koufax said "there was no reaction from our bench or from their players during the game. Nobody said a word about it. I don't know why. In all the others, they did.

"It's a shame that Hendley had to get beat that way. But don't misunderstand, it was great from my standpoint."

Koufax acknowledged that "our hit was a blooper (by Johnson)." It came with two out in the seventh inning, after Santo had made a good play in spearing Jim Gilliam's high bouncer to third.

Johnson's hit fell about 40 feet behind first base and Ron Fairly grounded out to end the inning.

Johnson was the lone Dodger base runner. He drew his walk on a full count to start the fifth inning and Fairly bunted him to second. Johnson took it from there. He stole third on his own and continued home on Krug's throw into left field.

"I had a big lead," said Johnson, "and I jumped an extra three steps. Only Beckert was paying attention to me, but he was too late. I knew I could make it. I'd have died if Jimmy (Lefebvre) had fouled off that pitch."

Lefebvre said he was tempted to swing at it. "It was a fat one, right down the middle."

Manager Walter Alston took the whole thing in stride.

"I told you Sandy would be a pretty good stopper. And don't forget to mention our hitting."

* * * * *

In the notes section at the end of the article, in what Dad termed "DIS AND DATA," he added, "Koufax struck out 10 or more for the 79th time in his career and 18th time this season, both major league records." An excerpt of the National League standings, titled "The Great Race," was included in the body of the article. The Dodgers (80-61), who went on to win the World Series in 1965, were tied for second place with the Cincinnati Reds (80-61), 1/2 game behind the San Francisco Giants (79-59). The Milwaukee Braves (77-62) and Pittsburgh Pirates (77-66) were in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Although there were only 29,000 people in the ballpark "and a million butterflies" as Vin Scully so beautifully called it, I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands who now claim they were there. I had always thought the low turnout for a Koufax start in a pennant race in September was owing to the Watts riots the previous month, but the Dodgers drew 53,581 and 48,576 vs. the Giants on the Monday and Tuesday before Sandy's perfecto. The crowd dipped to 21,918 for a Houston Astros game the following Sunday, but it never fell below 30,000 the rest of the year (a period which included a ten-game final homestand against the Cardinals, Reds, and Braves) and exceeded 55,000 for all three World Series games vs. the Minnesota Twins.

Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the fans in attendance that night, but it sure is fun to relive the game 40 years later. Thanks, Sandy. Thanks, Dad.



Your dad had a great style. Most articles today are editorials, rather than reports. I can't remember the times I have seen so many quotes from the players. What a great picture he paints! Even though we took the Press Telegram, I don't remember reading much of the sports section (or any sections for that matter). I wish I had.
Still, today, the Cubs are looking for (at) fastballs. Thanks for the memory.


I always love to hear more about the grandfather that I never met, and reading his articles makes it feel like he is still here. Thanks for sharing his writing.

Thanks for posting this and I thank your Dad for writing it. I was not at Dodger Stadium for the perfect game, though thanks to your Dad's writing and Vin's perfect call of the ninth inning I can re-live an event I was not able to witness.

Stan from Tacoma

I think the elder Mr. Lederer also benefited from having a short game and a long time to file his story.

And having a very easy box score to balance too!

Thanks to the commenters above, as well as those who sent emails or linked to the article. With appreciation, as always.


Great job, Richard. An interesting sidelight under the heading "the times they are a-changin'" -- couple Dad's report of the one hour 43 minute game with Vinny's time stamp of 9:46 on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard and you have an 8:03 p.m. start time. For a little added perspective, I'm pretty sure the Field Box seats and Loge level seats (all of them) at Dodger Stadium sold for $3.50 at that time. What a difference 40 years make.

Love the article, always loved Koufax, more importantly, love the way you keep your father's memory alive, he would be quite proud!!

Forwarded to me by your brother Gary.
Great piece by your Father (although as a long-suffering Cub fan it brought up some sad thoughts). My heroes in the day were Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Fergie Jenkins.

No wonder so many people claim to have been at that game...after reading your father's article, I feel like I was there myself. He did indeed paint a great picture... (I love the "Dis and Data" idea).

This is the first time I've read a contemporary report on the game. The only other ariticle I've ever seen on this game was from Baseball Digest in the early 70s... I thought it was amazing that Koufax threw 4 no hitters in 4 seasons, and I remember thinking that this had to be the greatest pitching duel ever... one hit, and that hit was not even used to score the game's only run.

Great, great article by your Dad! Thanks for posting!

Loved reading the story. I've seen the score card. Sorry I was so long getting you this. I'm not on the computer as much as my sister! Pam