Sandy Koufax Baseball Cards: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
Sandy Koufax baseball cards are some of the most sought after of any pitcher in baseball.
Once known as "The Left Arm of God", Koufax was arguably the greatest lefty the game has ever seen.
His career started slowly as he struggled with his command for much of his first six seasons. Then, in 1961, he got things under control and put together a string of six of the most dominant years a pitcher has ever produced.
During that stretch he compiled a jaw-dropping three pitching triple crowns, four no-hitters and one perfect game. For his achievements, Koufax became the youngest player ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at just 36 years old.
Listed here are 13 of Koufax's most important baseball cards in the collecting hobby.
1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Card
The 1955 Topps #123 is the lone Sandy Koufax rookie card that was issued. The horizontal display features a head shot of the young Koufax wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers cap and a smaller action shot of Koufax with one leg perched on some steps. It's Koufax's most highly-coveted baseball card and also the only mainstream issue that features his nickname "Sandy" in quotes. Demand for his rookie card has skyrocketed lately further increasing its value and making it one of the most valuable baseball cards in the hobby.
1956 Topps #79
Koufax's second year issue was also printed on a horizontal background, this time with his head shot on the right and action shot of him pitching on the left. His facsimile signature is also prominently displayed on the lower left side of the card. The 1956 Topps #79 continues to be one of the more popular Sandy Koufax baseball cards in the hobby.
1957 Topps #302
Most Koufax collectors love his 1957 Topps issue for the fact that is simple and features a great head shot of the young Koufax with a big, bright smile on his face. Centering and soft corners are usually what prevent most of these from being mint condition. Those that do achieve the lofty grade can fetch upwards of $20,000 or more. This would be the last time that Koufax would appear on a mainstream baseball card as a Brooklyn Dodger as the team would move to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.
1958 Topps #187
The 1958 Topps issue was Koufax's first card after the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles even though he's still pictured wearing a Brooklyn cap. Other than that, there really isn't much special about this card as it's fairly basic with Koufax shown looking up and into the distance on a bright yellow background.
1959 Topps #163
Koufax is finally sporting an L.A. Dodgers hat in the 1959 Topps issue--not his most expensive but still a collector favorite. You can see similar design characteristics between the 1958 and 1959 Topps issues but what really stands out is no doubt the encircled picture of Koufax and his bright smile. Like the 1956 Topps cards, you can also see that the company brought back player signatures for the 1959 cards.
1960 Topps #343
Topps switched back to a horizontal layout for their 1960 design and also introduced an interesting image and color scheme. On the left side of the card you will find a smaller black and white picture of Koufax on a bright yellow background. On the right side, a bright color image of Koufax anchors down the card. Each letter of his name alternates between yellow and white for added pop.
1961 Topps #344
This was the year that Koufax finally broke out and started down the path of racking up his legendary achievements. The 1961 Topps card itself shows a large picture of Koufax in a fielding position with his position and team information along the bottom. Nothing special really but the 1961 Topps cards are still collector favorites. Condition issues weren't as prevalent as for others so you can find a mint copy of Koufax's 1961 Topps card for under $1,000.
1962 Topps #5
Either you love the wood grain borders on the 1962 Topps baseball cards or you don't. At the same time, those borders are usually what prevent these cards from achieving top grades as they are prone to showing chipping and wear more easily. Mint copies of Koufax's 1962 Topps card don't pop up too often but when they do, you'll usually see them sell in the low five figure range making them one of his more expensive cards.
1963 Fleer #42
The 1963 Fleer issue was unique in itself as a small, 67 card set that featured a small cherry-flavored cookie in place of the usual bubble gum. The set is one of the more easier of the era to assemble due to its low card count and features several star players (although several key stars like Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra and Pete Rose were left out. Koufax is shown on the card smiling after just releasing a pitch with a small cartoon image of a pitcher inside a yellow diamond along the bottom. Centering is typically the biggest issue for these cards but it's still fairly easy to come across near-mint and mint examples of this Koufax baseball card.
1963 Topps #210
Topps introduced a more complicated design in 1963 as its cards featured large images of players along the top with a smaller encircled call-out image of the player at the bottom. It's really a pretty sharp design overall and this is one of the more popular Sandy Koufax baseball cards among collectors. Centering of the top image is usually an issue and you'll frequently notice signs of chipping along the bottom colored section of the cards. 1963 was a monster year for Koufax while he was at his peak, taking home the Cy Young, triple crown of pitching, and MVP of both the World Series and regular season. Seasons like that are what make legends out of baseball players.
1964 Topps #200
It's much easier to find 1964 Topps cards in good shape as the printing quality was much higher that year. White borders help prevent chipping and wear from showing as easily and centering is usually not too big of a problem either. Koufax's 1964 Topps baseball card shows a big bright head shot image of him while "Dodgers" is printed in large, thick red lettering across the top. Koufax didn't take home the Cy Young in 1964 as it was an "off" year for him as his season was cut short due to injury. He still managed to post 19 wins and 7 shutouts in 28 games.
1965 Topps # 300
The 1965 Topps Sandy Koufax baseball card shows a nice image of Koufax staring down a batter right before the pitch. Nice rounded orange borders and a small blue pennant with the Dodgers team name along the bottom make this a very nice-looking card. Centering can be a challenge and sometimes you'll find some of the dreaded print bubbles in the orange bordering. Koufax would pick up his second Cy Young and Triple Crown of Pitching awards in 1965. That was also the same year he threw his perfect game and set a then record with 382 strikeouts in a single season.
1966 Topps #100
Arthritis in his elbow would force 1966 to be Koufax's last year in Major League Baseball at only age 30. That last season would see Koufax win his most games in a single season (27) while posting his lowest single season ERA (1.73). Who knows what kind of career stats he could have produced if he could have pitched longer? The design of his 1966 Topps baseball card was fairly straightforward as it featured a large head shot with a serious look on his face, Dodgers team name in the upper left corner with his name and position at the bottom.
Sandy Koufax Baseball Cards In Review
Sandy Koufax was the first major league pitcher to pitch four no-hitters and only the eighth pitcher at the time to pitch a perfect game in baseball history.
Along with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez, and Nolan Ryan, Koufax is one of only four pitchers elected to the Hall of Fame who had more strikeouts than innings pitched. He generated most of his velocity from his strong legs and back. Combined with a high kicking wind-up, sharp overhand delivery and long forward stretch toward the plate, Koufax pitches often came at hitters with blazing speed.
Koufax baseball cards continue to rise in popularity as more and more collectors are trying to snatch them up.