Faith Over Baseball: Where Sandy Koufax Wasn’t On Yom Kippur, 1965

By | February 7, 2019

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Dodgers' pitcher Sandy Koufax holds up four balls with zeros on them, one for each of his no-hitters. Source: (

The LA Dodgers were having a great season in 1965…so great, in fact, that they made it to the World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Much of the team’s success could be credited to their left-handed pitcher, Sandy Koufax. One of the all-time greats, Koufax went on to become the youngest player to ever be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and has been called one of the best pitchers in the history of the sport. But in Game One of the 1965 World Series, Koufax wasn’t on the field to pitch for his team. That year, Game One of the World Series fell on Yom Kippur and Koufax, a practicing Jew, decided that his faith was more important than baseball. Here is the story of Koufax’s controversial decision and the impact it had on the 1965 World Series. 

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The Sixties were Just Two Decades After the Holocaust

The horrors of the Holocaust were still fresh in the minds of people, particularly Jews, in the 1960s. Like many people, Sandy Koufax grew into his faith. Born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1935, Koufax made his first major league appearance with the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. He demonstrated that he had one of the best-pitching arms in all of baseball and easily cemented his place on the team’s roster. During the early part of his sports career, Koufax put his Jewish faith on the back-burner. But as he matured throughout his twenties, his faith and his heritage became more important to him.