Jewish Journal

1965: When Dodger Sandy Koufax Didn’t Pitch Game One of the World Series

Ending a 29-year-old drought, the Los Angeles Dodgers will finally compete in the World Series, this time against the Houston Astros; the first game is tonight. To commemorate this fete, let’s take a look back when Jewish Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax made Dodger history in the 1965 World Series.

1965 was a landmark season for the Dodgers. During the playoffs, Koufax pitched a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs; it was the fourth straight season Koufax tossed a no-hitter. His legendary performance helped the Dodgers advance to the World Series vs. the Minnesota Twins.

Game One of the 1965 World Series coincided with Yom Kippur and Koufax famously decided not to pitch on the holiest day of the year. Koufax, who didn’t consider himself an observant Jew, told ESPN in 2000: “There was no hard decision for me. It was just a thing of respect. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, and I had no idea that it would impact that many people.”

In Koufax’s stead, future Hall of Famer Don Drysdale pitched Game One. The Twins scored seven runs in the first three innings and went on to an 8-2 victory. Drysdale told Dodgers manager Walter Alston, “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too.” Koufax returned to the mound to pitch Game Two and the star pitcher led the Dodgers to a World Series victory.

Koufax wasn’t the only Jewish Dodger to observe Yom Kippur in lieu of playing a game. Right-fielder Shawn Green skipped a significant game in 2001 and, according to Sports Illustrated, consulted Koufax before making the decision.

Here’s a list of Jewish Dodgers throughout the years: