LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Dodgers played in the seventh game of a World Series, Sandy Koufax was 29 years old, had pitched more than 300 innings that season and had no question that he would be on the mound to pitch the decisive winner-take-all matchup with the
LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Dodgers played in the seventh game of a World Series, Sandy Koufax was 29 years old, had pitched more than 300 innings that season and had no question that he would be on the mound to pitch the decisive winner-take-all matchup with the Twins.
That scenario seems unfathomable today, where "workhorse" is defined by a pitcher who exceeds maybe 200 innings in a season. And, even then, his workload is closely monitored, beginning with every warmup toss he takes.
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Such was not the case in 1965, when the Dodgers rode Koufax's magical left arm to a World Series championship, even though he had pitched through most of the regular season in incredible pain and was already considering retirement -- which came a year later.
In that Game 7, Koufax threw a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over the Twins. That followed a four-hit shutout in Game 5. In total, he pitched 24 innings in the World Series alone.
The Dodgers won Game 7 of that 1965 series on the road, and though they played in more Fall Classics after that, they had never hosted a Game 7 at home. That changed on Wednesday, when they met the Astros at Chavez Ravine for the decisive game of the World Series, an eventual 5-1 loss for Los Angeles.
In that respect, it seemed only fitting that the Dodgers would incorporate the best left-hander in their history, and their perennial postseason hero, in the pregame festivities to kick off the grand finale.
The Dodgers never lack star power at Dodger Stadium, and this game was no exception. The ceremonial first pitches were thrown by two pitching legends: Koufax, 81, and 91-year-old Don Newcombe, who pitched in three World Series for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Catching the pitches were two more Dodgers favorites who contributed mightily to past postseasons: former first baseman Steve Garvey, and outfielder Rick Monday.
Garvey, during his Dodgers tenure from 1969-82, hit .301 with 211 homers and 992 RBIs. He won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1974 and was a 10-time All-Star. Monday, a longtime Dodgers broadcaster, played for Los Angeles from 1977-84 and appeared in four postseasons, including the 1981 World Series championship team.
Garvey and Monday were cheered twice: when they caught the pitches, and also when they bellowed Vin Scully's famous line "It's time for Dodger baseball" into the stadium mic as the final act of the pregame festivities.
The nation's colors were presented by members of the five branches of the armed forces, while a quartet from the Los Angeles Police Department, led by Rosiland Curry, performed the anthem.
The official game ball was delivered to the mound by Nathan Garcia from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He was accompanied by former Dodger favorite Manny Mota, and actor J.B. Smoove, both who are Boys & Girls Clubs of America alumni.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.