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Remembering Sandy Koufax's perfect game

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Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

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We don't know the full details of Clayton Kershaw's perfect game on July 24 in Toronto against the Blue Jays, mostly since the game hasn't yet happened. So in the nearly four months between now and then, we will have to reminisce about Sandy Koufax and his perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965 against the Cubs.

The game was unique in that Koufax wasn't alone in pitching a great game. Bob Hendley had the game of his life for Chicago, and allowed just one run and one hit. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the double by Lou Johnson proved inconsequential in the Dodgers' scoring their run.

Yes, their run. Sept. 9 was one of three 1-0 victories by Koufax in 1965 after the All-Star break alone.

Koufax struck out 14 on the night, and it was just the beginning of a ridiculous stretch for the left-hander, who won the second of three Cy Young Awards that season. Over 36 days Koufax made 10 starts and one relief appearance (he had a save), and went 7-2 with a 0.92 ERA, with 93 strikeouts and 14 walks in 78 innings. The perfect game was one of six shutouts during that run, which concluded with two shutouts in four days to clinch the World Series for the Dodgers.

Sweet Lou Johnson, who would later homer in Game 7 to help the Dodgers to a 2-0 World Series-clinching win, walked to lead off the fifth against Hendley, then was sacrificed to second base by Ron Fairly. Johnson stole third base and, when catcher Chris Krug's throw sailed into left field Johnson scored for the game's only run.

Just think, without Johnson's double two innings later, the Koufax perfect game would have been remembered as a double no-hitter. But instead it will have to be remembered for the brilliance of Koufax.

As the story goes, Koufax was having trouble getting his curve ball over and at one point late in the game catcher John Roseboro went to the mound. After Koufax told his catcher of his plight, Roseboro said something like, "Let's just go with the heat, babe."

Note: I must have mixed up games here since Jeff Torborg caught Koufax's perfect game and not Roseboro. But I do distinctly remember Roseboro talking about saying that to Koufax during a mound meeting.

Koufax struck out the final six batters of the game.

On the broadcast, Vin Scully's call is classic as he gave the time stamp throughout the ninth inning. The conclusion came at 9:46 p.m. PT. "Two and two to Harvey Keunn," Scully called. "Sandy into his windup, here's the pitch. Swung on and missed! A perfect game!"