What happened when Hall of Famer, former Cardinal Jim Kaat faced off against Sandy Koufax

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Jim Kaat and Sandy Koufax | Wiki Commons Images

ALEC BARIS, DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT ASSOCIATE

Jim Kaat, the MLB journeyman starting pitcher and former Cardinals hurler-turned broadcast personality, was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday along with five other legends in the Class of 2022 by the Golden Days Era Committee.

Kaat is one of five pitchers ever to pitch 25 or more seasons, and he was known in his day a quite a teller of stories. But few compare to the one that happened to him in the fall of 1965, when he faced Sandy Koufax in the 1965 World Series, not once, not twice, but three times.

Koufax, the Jewish pitching legend who arguably would’ve gone down as the greatest pitcher in league history had it not been for injuries, famously sat out Game One of the ’65 series, because it fell on Yom Kippur. But he returned in Game 2 to face off against Kaat.

Game 2

Following a win in Game 1, Kaat was the starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in Game 2. In this one, an error was the difference, as it allowed two runners to score and give Minnesota the lead in the middle innings off Koufax. Those two runs along with Katt knocking a two-run single in the eighth inning, was all he needed to give the Twins a 5-1 win to go up 2-0 in the series.

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Game 5

The Dodgers won both Games 3 and 4 to even the series setting up a rematch of Game 2 between Kaat and Koufax. Kaat gave up two runs early in the first inning, and Koufax responded with a 4-hit, 10-strikeout shutout. Koufax, like Kaat in Game 2, helped himself out with an RBI single in the seventh, and the Dodgers ultimately won the game 7-0, taking back the series lead, 3-2.

Game 7

A Game 6 win for the Twins set up a third and final Kaat-Koufax rematch, this time in a winner-take-all Game 7. Because both aces were on short rest, each team had relief pitchers ready to go. Koufax escaped several jams early in the game, and a Lou Johnson home run gave the Dodgers the early lead, followed by an RBI double shortly after.

With the Dodgers ahead, the rematch ended early, as the Twins went to their bullpen, effectively shutting down the Dodgers for the rest of the game. However, those two runs would be all Koufax needed. He tossed a three-hit complete game shutout in one of the greatest World Series pitching performances of all time, getting the better of his rival and clinching the championship.

Legacy

This World Series is one of the most memorable for several reasons, including the decision by Koufax to not pitch in Game 1 to observe Yom Kippur. In addition, no relief pitchers were used by the winning team in any game of the series; the starting pitcher tossed a complete game in all seven contests.

Koufax’s heroics in the 1965 World Series overshadow the efforts that newly elected Hall of Famer Kaat displayed in tandem with him. Had it not been for Kaat’s challenge, Koufax may not be remembered with the same legacy he is today.