On this date in 1965, Sandy Koufax strikes out 14, including the final six batters he faces, in his perfect game and 1-0 victory against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium. After Joe Amalfitano fanned for the second out of the ninth inning, he walked toward the dugout and crossed paths with Harvey Kuenn, who told Amalfitano, “I’ll be right back.”
It remains the only perfect game by a Dodger pitcher and nearly was a double no-hitter because Cubs left-hander Bob Hendley allowed just two baserunners – both Lou Johnson, who walked in the fifth and blooped a double to right field in the seventh. Johnson scored in the fifth inning on a sacrifice bunt, stolen base and throwing error.
On this date in 2001, Shawn Green broke the Dodger single-season home run record with his 44th against the St. Louis Cardinals. The previous mark was held by Brooklyn’s Duke Snider, who hit 43 in 1956. Green set the franchise record with 49 home runs in 2001. On September 26, Green didn’t play for the first time in 415 consecutive games to honor the most significant holiday on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. He donated his day’s pay to a charity for survivors of the New York 9/11 terrorist attacks.
On this date in 1996, Brett Butler returned for his first game since being diagnosed with cancer on May 6. Batting leadoff and playing center field, Butler hit a single in three at-bats and stole a base in a 2-1 victory over the Pirates at Dodger Stadium. Butler underwent surgery and treatment during the summer to combat a rare type of cancer that involved his tonsils. Butler appeared in 763 games with Los Angeles between 1991-1997 and compiled a .298 batting average in 763 games with 14 home runs, 191 RBI and 179 stolen bases.
Steve Bilko had been a popular first baseman in the Pacific Coast League with the Los Angeles Angels prior to joining the Dodgers in 1958. The television character “Sgt. Bilko,” played by actor Phil Silvers, was named after Bilko because he was the favorite player of series-creator Nat Hiken. Other Dodgers would influence TV and film characters. The “Herbie the Love Bug” car was No. 53 because one of the producers was a Don Drysdale fan. And Agent Scully in the “X-Files” was named after Vin Scully. The “John Doggett” agent added to the X-Files was in honor of Scully’s longtime broadcasting partner, Jerry Doggett.
On September 4, 1966, the Dodgers became the first MLB team to draw more than two million fans at home and on the road in the same season. The Dodgers were defending World Champions with Hall of Fame pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale leading L.A. in another close pennant race. Los Angeles won the 1966 pennant on the final day of the regular season. The Dodgers in 1978 would become the first MLB franchise to surpass the three-million mark in home attendance.
After missing two games with the flu, first baseman Steve Garvey returned to the lineup on Sept. 3, 1975 and began his National League streak of 1,207 consecutive games, which ranks fourth all-time on the MLB list behind Cal Ripken Jr. (2,632), Lou Gehrig (2,130) and Everett Scott (1,307). Garvey played in 1,107 of the 1,207 games as a Dodger and 100 with the San Diego Padres. Garvey was the Dodgers’ Opening Day third baseman in 1970 and 1971, but his throwing errors made him a pinch-hitter by 1973. His Dodger career at the crossroads, Garvey’s big break occurred when outfielder Von Joshua broke his hand and manager Walter Alston asked Bill Buckner if he would switch from first base to left field. Buckner agreed and Garvey started his first game with infielders Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey on June 23. The quartet spent a record 8 1/2 seasons together through the 1981 World Series.