Koufax, retired almost 20 years and in his 40s, was pitching BP to the Dodgers (whom he often helped coach) between post-season series in the mid-1980s. This was the great-hitting Dodger line-up with Sax, Garvey, Baker, Cey, and others. Just throwing easy minor-league 45-year-old man fastballs for BP, letting the hitters groove their swings. One of the hitters calls for the famous curveball. This Koufax usually didn’t throw, lest it aggravate his elbow. But this hitter wanted to see the thing, see if he could hit it, so Koufax indulged him.
This is a major league hitter who knows what pitch is coming, batting against a man in his mid-40s.
Curve comes in, drops like a stone — a swing and a miss.
Hitter calls for another. Same result. Several more; the same.
By now the hitter’s teammates are in hysterics. He gives up, walks off, tells his buddies, you try it, then. And one by one they do — this great Dodger line-up comes up, every one knowing what pitch he’s getting, and no one can connect. Koufax is 45 or so — and with one pitch, pre-announced, he is unhittable.
No wonder Mantle said what he said.
As the story goes, manager Lasorda walked out to the mound and, using the pretext he wanted to protect Koufax’s arm, asked him to stop — but to Koufax he said, Cut it out already, I don’t want my hitters mentally destroyed just before a post-season series because they can’t hit a one-pitch man in his 40s.