In 1965, the Minnesota Twins showed complete dominance on the field. They won 102 games (still the most in Twins/Senators franchise history) and the nation took full notice as Harmon Killebrew, Zoilo Versalles, and Mudcat Grant looked like superstars throughout and certainly seemed poised to take home the World Series crown.
All signs pointed to the Twins:
The All-Star game came to Minnesota for the first time
Half a dozen Twins were named to the all-star team
They had a 2-0 World Series lead going to Dodger Stadium
Unfortunately, 1965 became the year of Sandy Koufax. He was the Cy Young Award winner, Triple Crown winner, pitched a perfect game, and he just so happened to be the winning pitcher of the all-star game. However, his excellence looked like it was coming to an end in the World Series.
The Twins dominated game 1 as Koufax made headlines deciding not to play because it fell on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. Although, it would not make much of a difference as the Twins were waiting for him game 2 and won that one 5-1. Games 3-5 would not be pretty as the Dodgers won by a combined 18-2. Koufax made up for his previous outing in game 5 as he struck out 10 and gave up no runs in an easy 7-0 win to send the series back to Minneapolis for game 6.
Mudcat Grant had to be ready on two days rest to save the Twins season. Fortunately, he was more than ready as he shut down the Dodgers to send the series to a game 7. He showed no signs of fatigue as he pitched a complete game and only gave up one run.
Game 7 took place on October 14th, 1965. The Twins hosted the final game at Metropolitan Stadium, with a little more than 50,000 in attendance. The city and state were ready to hoist up the World Series crown. The home team had won the previous six games, so would it be a lucky seven for Minnesota? Just like Mudcat in game 6, Koufax would have to pitch game 7 on two days’ rest. However, two days rest would not matter for him either as Sandy left the fans silent from first pitch to the last. The Dodgers won 2-0 as Koufax pitched a magnificent complete game shutout. Without a doubt, he had one of the best postseason pitching performances of all-time. He struck out ten, while only giving up three hits.
Koufax would of course be named World Series MVP. Honestly, he should have retired right after the game (because of being on top of the baseball world and playing the season through pain) but he decided to retire the year after. It seems like superstar athletes can never retire at a magical time. The perfect example that comes to mind is Michael Jordan deciding to come back three years later after hitting the game-winner in the 1998 NBA Finals. Sometimes, the pain is worth continuing to play the game they love instead of a happily ever after ending.
The 1965 Minnesota Twins were the best Twins team (and one of the best teams ever) to not win the World Series. The most interesting facts about World Series history for the Twins:
Game 7 is the only home loss in a World Series for the Minnesota Twins
The Twins have never won a World Series road game
All three World Series they have participated in went 7 games
The Twins would win the 1987 and 1991 World Series, but the 1965 Minnesota Twins are statistically the greatest team in Twins/Senators history. It does not matter whether you include the Senators history into this because this Twins team was more than special. I believe they were better than the 1924 Senators championship team. Essentially, they just ran into a Los Angeles Dodgers team that featured Sandy Koufax. He just so happened to be that one person you can have on a team that puts you over the top. This Minnesota Twins team will be remembered in baseball history, but it is safe to say that Sandy Koufax’s game 7 pitching performance will be remembered forever.
Would Sandy Koufax have not pitched if Yom Kippur fell on the day of game 7?