NL Pitching Leaders Sandy Koufax/Juan Marichal/Warren Spahn/Jim Maloney - 1964 Topps

Sanford "Sandy" Koufax (December 30, 1935-) was one of the most dominant pitcher of the 1960s, breaking a 58-year old strikeout record set by Christy Mathewson in 1903, becoming not only the first pitcher to throw four no-hitters (including one perfect game), but also the first to win multiple Cy Young Awards. Sandy, nee Sanford Braun, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York where he excelled in basketball, but also enjoyed baseball. After captaining his Lafayette High School basketball team, he accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Cincinnati, but he eventually chose to play baseball and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers after only one year at Cincy. Because the Dodgers signed the hard-throwing left handed to a $14,000 bonus, MLB rules required that he remain on the Major League roster for two years, thereby foregoing his much needed minor league guidance. Sandy would learn the ropes of professional baseball at its highest level. Though he would begin his career at a critical point in the Brooklyn Dodgers history, as they finally achieved the ultimate goal beating the New York Yankees in the World Series for the franchise's first Major League title, Koufax struggled mightily to find his control and consistency. August 27, 1955 marked Sandy's first career win, beating the Cincinnati Reds as he struck out 14 batters, but he would finish the year at .500 going 2-2 with 30 Ks and a 3.02 ERA. However, he was still only 19-year old. His struggles would continue for the next five seasons with Koufax going 36-40 with 683 strikeouts and a 4.10 ERA in 174 appearances. Hardly considered much more than mediocre, let alone the making of a Hall of Fame caliber career. The Dodgers were able to return to the World Series 1959 where they dispatched the Chicago White Sox in six games.

However, in 1961, on the advice of backup catcher Norm Sherry, Sandy learned to control his fastball by not over-throwing. Sherry took the young hurler aside and told him to just try to throw strikes and not try to throw so hard and success would follow. Koufax stated that during those early years, he "tried to throw every pitch harder than the last one." But that simple advice turned his career around, and hitters around the league considered his fastball and curveball virtually unhittable. Adding a change-up to the mix soon made Sandy the most dominant pitcher of the 1960s and one of the most dominant in the history of the game. For the first time, in 1961 he led the National League in strikeouts with 269, to more than Christy Mathewson in 1903 and went 18-13 with 15 complete games. He also earned his first of six straight trips to the MLB All-Star Game. A change of venue for the Dodgers, now playing in Los Angeles, playing in the new pitcher-friendly Dodgers Stadium, Koufax was immediately benefitted by the larger park and his ERA plummeting from 4.29 to 1.75. He threw his first of four no-hitters against the expansion New York Mets on June 30, and in the end pitched to a 14-7 record with a league leading 2.54 ERA and 216 strikeouts. In 1963, the reluctant star, Koufax captured his first of three pitching Triple Crowns, going 25-5 with 306 strikeouts, a 1.88 ERA and 11 shutouts - all league leading statistics to earn MLB's Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player Award. And, once again, he led the Dodgers to the National League pennant. 

He would go on to win his second and third Triple Crowns and Cy Youngs in 1965 and 1966, respectively, and he spirited the Boys in Blue to a second World Series appearance in 1965. But, not without controversy. Koufax became a hero to Jews worldwide when he refused to pitch in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series as it fell on Yom Kippur, a religious high holiday. Koufax stood up for his beliefs and the Dodgers fell to the Yankees in Game 1, but Sandy returned to outpitch the World Series record-setting Whitey Ford in Games 3 & 5 to lead the Dodgers to their second MLB title in three years. He threw no-hitters against the San Francisco Giants (5/11/1963), the Philadelphia Phillies (6/4/1964) and a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs on September 9, 1965. Sadly though, injuries and arthritis caught up wth the hard-throwing lefty who was forced to use heat on his elbow before each game and then plunge that elbow into a bucket of ice water after, not to mention the myriad of painkillers. And so, Sandy shocked his teammates, management and the baseball world for that matter when he retired at the age of 30, becoming of the youngest ever to call it quits in the prime of his career in any sport. Koufax’s splendid, seemingly limitless career was cut short due to arthritis limiting him to 12 seasons, but his impact on the game is timeless. Sandy Koufax retired with a record of 165-87 with 2,396 strikeouts and a 2.76 earned run average. Koufax continued to cover baseball as a broadcaster for NBC. Sanford "Sandy" Koufax was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

James William “Jim” Maloney (June 2, 1940-) was, perhaps, one of the best pitchers of the 1960s who was a consistent no-hitter threat, but is often forgotten when list among contemporaries from his age like Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal, among others. The Cincinnati Reds signed Jim in 1959 and by 1960, he was being utilized as a spot starter and out of the bullpen. Maloney was one of the hardest throwing right-handers in baseball during the 1960s with a fastball clocked at 99 mph on occasion. Jim had his first of eight straight winning seasons in 1962 reaching double figures in wins in seven of those campaigns. The strikeout pitcher went 23-7 in 1963 and then 20-9 in 1965 with 265 and 244 Ks, respectively. On June 14, 1965, Jim struck out 18 batters and threw 10 no-hit innings against the New York Mets, but lost the game on a solo home run in the 11th inning from outfielder Johnny Lewis. On August 19 of that same year, he no-hit the Chicago Cubs and struck out 12 batters for the 1-0 victory. On April 30, 1969, he threw his second official no-hitter against the Houston Astros with 13 Ks. On the next day, Don Wilson made history and returned the favor no-hitting the Reds to become the second pitching pair to throw back-to-back no-hitters against opposing teams. Maloney threw five one-hitters and was also taken out of two games in the 7th inning despite no-hitting the opposition. His best year came in that 1965 season when he went 23-7 with 265 strikeouts, 13 complete games, six shutouts and a 2.77 ERA and earned his only All-Star Game selection. In his only World Series in 1961, he allowed two earned runs in two thirds of an inning. (The Reds lost to the New York Yankees in five games.) Jim Maloney pitched 11 years in Cincinnati (1960-1970) and with the California Angels (1971). He retired following the 1971 season with a career record of 134-84, 1,605 strikeouts, 74 complete games, 30 shutouts and a 3.19 ERA in 262 starts in 302 appearances. In ironic fashion, Maloney’s career essentially ended when he tore his Achilles tendon trying to run out a hit in 1970.

Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez (October 20, 1937-) was renowned for his ultra-high leg kick during his windup and delivery on the mound. Marichal spent 14 seasons with the San Francisco Giants (1960-1973) and a total of 16 years in the big leagues, finishing his career doing one-year stints with the Red Sox and Dodgers, respectively. During the 1960s, the Dominican Republic native won more games than any other during that decade, including throwing a no-hitter against the Houston Colt .45s. Juan was a member of ten All-Star games and was the 1965 MLB All-Star Game MVP. Marichal led the National League in wins, complete games shutouts and innings pitched twice and led in ERA in 1969 with a 2.10 average. Juan Marichal retired with a 243-142 record posting 2,303 strikeouts and a career 2.89 ERA. Despite his amazing record during the 1960s, fellow NL pitchers Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax often overshadowed Marichal for MLB honors. Juan Antonio Marichal Sanchez was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. 

Warren Edward Spahn (April 23, 1921 - November 24, 2003) is the winningest left-handed pitcher in the history of the Major Leagues with 363 victories. Topping the 20-win mark 13 times during his 21-year career made him one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League in any era. Spahn pitched for the Boston/Milwaukee Braves (1942, 1946-1964) for virtually his entire career, earning 17 All-Star selections. Spahn was the ace of the Braves pitching staff helping the heavy hitting squad to three National League pennants and one World Series Championship in 1957. Warren also captured the Cy Young Award in 1957 after posting a 21-11 record with 18 complete games, 130 strikeouts and a 2.69 ERA. Warren Spahn threw his first no-hitter in 1960 at the age of 39 and his second the following year. At age 42, Spahn’s extraordinary durability was exemplified in 1963 when he faced San Francisco’s Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal in a 16-inning loss where Spahn threw 201 pitches and Marichal hurled 227 to take the 1-0 win. Warren Spahn retired in 1965 with a 363-245 record, 2,583 strikeouts and a 3.08 earned run average. Warren Edward Spahn was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.



Condition Census (Explain)

Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MINT 9 (16)

PRICES BY GRADE

1964 TOPPS 3 NL PITCHING LEADERS

Grade Most Recent Price Average Price SMR Price Population POP Higher
Auth $39.00 1 518
PR 1 1 517
FR 1.5 517
GOOD 2 6 510
VG 3 20 490
VG - EX 4 $45.00 $45.00 38 446
EX 5 $18.99 $17.25 $12.00 73 369
EX - MT 6 $17.99 $14.16 $17.00 105 255
NM 7 $79.90 $59.08 $40.00 124 125
NM - MT 8 $374.00 $208.50 $235.00 78 24
MINT 9 $1,380.00 $1,139.49 $1,150.00 16
GEM - MT 10

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