Sandy Koufax (True) 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 true 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 Koufax 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

Sandy Koufax 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

Before We Begin

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True Rookie Card

Identifier (RC) Defined

A rookie card is a trading card that is the first to feature an athlete AFTER that athlete has participated in the highest level of competition within his or her respected sport. It must be licensed by both the League and the Players Association. An RC identifier is only given to cards that fit this criteria. Below is an exhaustive list of the featured players true rookie cards.

1955 Topps, #123 (RC)

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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.


Rookie-Year Card

Identifier (RYC) Defined

An RYC identifier is given to the cards of a rookie player that: are not the first card featured in the base set, subset cards, insert cards, print on-demand cards, food and beverage issues, or cards that are not properly licensed by the League and the Players Association.

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers Picture Pack (RYC)

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The Picture Pack above, and the Golden Stamp featured below have lots in common. Both are blank backs, both are from 1955, and both feature Sandy Koufax.

However, these should not be identified as true rookie cards because there not properly licensed. Also, they were regional issues, and historically a picture card and a stamp have not been considered rookie cards. A more legitimate identifier would be Rookie-Year Card.

1955 Golden Stamps Brooklyn Dodgers (RYC)

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Post-Rookie Theme

Identifier (PRT) Defined

The PRT identifier has a dual function. It’s used to identify cards that feature a player after their rookie season but in some way the card design has elements that feature a rookie theme. Also, for vintage, this identifier can be used for second year cards which are highly collectable, and often times preferred, but they are NOT true rookie cards.

1956 Topps, #79 (PRT)

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A strong viable option for collectors is second year cards or as we refer to them as Post-Rookie Theme for the reasons given above. They are a legitimate option especially when the rookie card gets too pricey.

In 1956, Topps opted NOT to recycle photos. The portrait of Sandy Koufax does not appear to be painted but appears more like a real photograph 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 one variant for this one. The more popular gray back and a variant white back.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.


Sources:

Sandy Koufax Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/koufasa01.shtml (accessed October 23, 2018).

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