When it comes to the greatest pitchers of all time in baseball, Sandy Koufax has earned his place in the conversation with a career that spanned over twelve seasons. During his remarkable tenure, he won three Cy Young awards and hurled four no-hitters, two of which were perfect games! His mastery on the field was unparalleled, as he compiled an amazing 2.76 ERA throughout his professional career and also helped push his team to five World Series titles.
Beyond being one of the greats when it comes to baseball, however, Sandy Koufax is also remembered for inspiring words and powerful messages that are still relevant up to this day. Here are some of Sandy Koufax’s best quotes that capture his great sense of humor as well as piercing insight—all while highlighting why he remains such an iconic figure today.
“Pitching is the art of instilling fear.”
“I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.”
“In the end it all comes down to talent. You can talk all you want about intangibles, I just don’t know what that means. Talent makes winners, not intangibles. Can nice guys win? Sure, nice guys can win – if they’re nice guys with a lot of talent. Nice guys with a little talent finish fourth, and nice guys with no talent finish last.”
“People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball.”
“Show me a guy who can’t pitch inside and I’ll show you a loser.”
“A guy that throws what he intends to throw, that’s the definition of a good pitcher.”
“If there was any magic formula, it was getting to pitch every fourth day.”
“You’ve got to be lucky to pitch a no-hitter, and if you have good stuff, it’s easier to be lucky.”
“The game has a cleanness. If you do a good job, the numbers say so. You don’t have to ask anyone or play politics. You don’t have to wait for the reviews.”
“He’s the strangest hitter in baseball. Figure him out one way and he’ll kill you another.”
“I don’t know if cortisone is good for you or not. But to take a shot every other ball game is more than I wanted to do and to walk around with a constant upset stomach because of the pills and to be high half the time during a ball game because you’re taking painkillers … I don’t want to have to do that.”
“I think it’s incredible because there were guys like (Willie) Mays and (Mickey) Mantle and Henry Aaron who were great players for ten years… I only had four or five good years.”
“I can’t believe that Babe Ruth was a better player than Willie Mays. (Babe) Ruth is to baseball what Arnold Palmer is to golf. He got the game moving. But I can’t believe he could run as well as (Willie) Mays, and I can’t believe he was any better an outfielder.”
“If I could straighten it out (his golf swing), I’d be pitching at Dodger Stadium tonight.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody with quicker hands than Soriano.”
“I’ll never know. I’ve never been in a fight. But I doubt whether pitching speed would have any significance. You can’t go into a windup in the ring.”
“There were now men on first and second. The batter was Henry Aaron. I walked him on four straight balls, which was probably the smartest thing I did all year. There have been many times since when I wished I had been wild enough to walk Henry Aaron. I’m usually backing up third as I am wishing it.”
“It was probably the worst thing that could have happened to me, getting my first out by striking out a big hitter. Because that became my pattern for five years, trying to get out of trouble by throwing harder and harder and harder.”
“Mays always told me how hard it was to get a hit off me and every time I looked up, he was on second base. Yet, even with Mays, I had an idea what to do. When I pitched to Clemente and Aaron, I had no idea. They seemed to hit everything.”
“Last year wasn’t Seaver’s kind of year, but he’s still an impressive pitcher, still strong. Like McLain, Marichal and Gibson, he has the good stuff and control. I mean he can make an excellent fastball or curve and throw it in good spots. A guy who throws what he intends to throw—that’s the definition of a good pitcher.”
“I can’t picture people talking about me 50 years from now.”
“There is among us a far closer relationship than the purely social one of a fraternal organization because we are bound together not only by a single interest but by a common goal. To win. Nothing else matters, and nothing else will do.”
“I’ve got a lot of years to live after baseball and I would like to live them with the complete use of my body.”
“I know I was faster 10 years ago. I think Jim Maloney, Bob Veale, Bob Gibson and perhaps one or two others throw faster. In my best days I don’t think I threw faster than Ryne Duren. He was the fastest I ever saw.”
“At times it’s a satisfaction and at times it’s a little bit of an intrusion. You don’t mind the kids. But sometimes their parents get to be…well, not bad about it, but they become demanding. The kids will ask, but the parents will demand sometimes. As long as somebody asks, I don’t mind at all. But the ones who demand are tough on me. I’ve got so many bosses already I don’t know if I can stand one or two more.”
“You know what happens? Somebody writes a story 10 years ago and it never changes. If the guy 10 years ago was wrong, the stories are gonna be wrong for 20 years afterward. […] They used to annoy me a lot more, but now I’ve begun to feel they’re going to be written, there’s nothing I can do about it and I’m not going to worry about it. Sometimes things don’t come out the way you say them. You run into one of those reporters who’s more interested in the dictionary and the very good usage of the English language, and he thinks that when John Roseboro says cool it means cold. But you can’t let it annoy you.”
“I don’t regret for one minute the twelve years I’ve spent in baseball, but I could regret one season too many. I’ve got a lot of years to live after baseball and I would like to live them with the complete use of my body. I tried to do a consistently good job – that was my goal. I loved played. I loved the game. And, I’ll miss it. My only regret is leaving baseball. I still don’t know how much I am going to miss it, but I know I am going to miss a lot of things.”
“What do I strive for? Well, I go out there with the idea of shooting for a no-hit game. When the first hit is made off me, I then try to keep them or any runs scored down to a minimum. The main idea is to win. As to strikeouts, yes. I am proud of my records. I’m not out there trying to blow down every hitter. There are too many smart ones in the league. I want to get them out first, strike them out if I can.”
“The only time I really try for a strikeout is when I’m in a jam. If the bases are loaded with none out, for example, then I’ll go for a strikeout. But most of the time I try to throw to spots. I try to get them to pop up or ground out. On a strikeout I might have to throw five or six pitches, sometimes more if there are foul-offs. That tires me. So I just try to get outs. That’s what counts – outs. You win with outs, not strikeouts.”
“Roberto Clemente hit an outside fastball that was still rising when it hit against the light tower in left center field, 450 feet away from home plate. And on a 1-2 pitch at that. But there is no such thing as a good pitch to Clemente. Ask me how to pitch to Clemente, and I will tell you with complete confidence, “How do I know?” Roberto can hit any pitch, anywhere, at any time. He’ll hit pitchouts, he’ll hit brush-back pitches. He’ll hit high, inside pitches deep to the opposite field, which would be ridiculous even if he didn’t do it with both feet off the ground.”
“It’s better to throw a theoretically poorer pitch whole-heartedly, than to throw the so-called right pitch with feeling of doubt-doubt that’s it’s right, or doubt that you can make it behave well at that moment. You’ve got to feel sure you’re doing the right thing-sure that you want to throw the pitch you’re going to throw.”
“The biggest thrill is the game where you give up one or two or three runs when you don’t have anything, when you have no right even being out there, no reason to be out there. Those games are the difference between having a .500 year and a really great year. You figure, if you go out there 30 times, 15 times you’re going to have great stuff and 15 times you’re going to have mediocre stuff. If you can win a fair percentage of the games when you’re mediocre, you’re going to have a good year.”
“Well, I already have a fork ball, but it’s not really another pitch. I use it instead of a change of pace. If I have a good fast ball and a good curve ball I hesitate to use anything else. But if they’re not getting me by, I try to use anything I can, including the fork ball. […] I don’t know if I can throw any other pitches. I used to try the slider once in a while, and some other pitches, but since I had this little problem with my elbow it seems like only my old standby pitches don’t bother me. All the new stuff, like the slider or the others I used to try, it seems like they all hurt my arm.”
“In 1960 I had made the transition from thrower to pitcher and had not understood that in making the transition I had made a beginning, not an end. you become a pitcher before you become a good pitcher. […] Nor do I wish to testify under oath that I have not forgotten, do not—and will not—forget from time to time and revert to the wayward ways of my youth. It’s usually when I’m tired or mad, but dumbness is not to be completely discounted either. In the 1965 All-Star Game I was terribly wild. I came into the game in the sixth inning and immediately threw seven straight balls. Although I got out of the inning, it was a struggle with every batter. […] There was not a thing wrong with my arm. My arm was fine. My head was something else again. Knowing that I was only going to pitch an inning or two, I had thought, “Well, hell, I’ll just go in and throw as hard as I can.” And there I was, right back where I’d been ten years ago, wild high.”
“It is a curious thing that while a home-run hitter is expected to fatten up in the routs, and the pitchers are certainly not supposed to let up, the opposing team becomes furious when a base is stolen after a game is apparently out of reach. Particularly the manager. The theory seems to be that the stolen base is somehow extraneous to the game, that it is an extra effort, a thumbing of the nose. Not on our team it isn’t. Stealing bases is Maury’s game, and—to a sometimes alarming extent—it was the Dodgers’ offense. Maury’s game is to get the other team upset, to get them into a frame of mind where they are so eager not to let him show them up that the catcher throws the ball too hastily and the fielder rushes his tag. Result: the hasty throw is off the mark and the infielder neglects to wait for the ball. Maury’s game is called Panic!”
“Maury had been made captain in the first week of spring training, a title which usually entitles its bearer to carry the lineup card to the umpires and draw an extra $500 on his salary. Maury took it seriously, and his leadership had a strong, cohesive effect. […] Maury has become a dominant figure in our locker room. He has come to believe that there is nothing he cannot do if he sets his mind to it. There is something almost mystical in his belief in himself, especially when you remember that he came to us after nine full years in the minors with all the uncertainties of the fringe player hoping to hold on.”
Which quote do you like the most?
Sandy Koufax is remembered not just for his extraordinary accomplishments on the baseball diamond but also for his thought-provoking words and quotes that are still relevant today. From witty zingers to sage advice on life, Sandy Koufax’s best quotes continue to inspire generations of people. Which of these Sandy Koufax quotes is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below, or share this blog post with your friends and family!
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