I wanted to start featuring stories about famous people with arthritis and how they’ve dealt with the change in their lives. Normally I will try to focus on people with Still’s Disease or the like, but it’s always fun to start out with the sports stars.
Sandy Koufax was one of the best pitchers of all time, of all time! But seriously, when you reduce the list to left-handed pitchers, he tops them all. Sadly, his career only lasted six seasons because of his debilitating arthritis.
The end of his career began with his 17th win during the 1964 season. The Dodgers beat the Braves 5-4 in August, thanks to Koufax. Not only did he pitch a complete game, but he scored the run that started the winning rally in the fifth inning. When he tried to avoid a pickoff throw at second base, Koufax jammed his pitching arm. After he won his 19th game, Koufax’s pitching arm was so swollen that he couldn’t straighten it. Clearly, this wasn’t good.
Koufax was diagnosed with traumatic arthritis, which is cause by a repetitive movement. They pulled him from the remaining games in the ’64 season so that he could rest what had become a very valuable arm. He returned to the team during spring training in ’65. After Koufax pitched a complete game during training, he woke up to a black and swollen elbow. He was told to take it easy, prescribed drugs to help with the swelling and pain, and heavily used buckets of ice as well as different balms. The ’66 season would prove to be his last. Sandy Koufax retired at the age of 30.
Most of the information was found at Sports Illustrated.