Braves' Lemaster: Next Koufax?

Filed under Atlanta Braves
May 25, 1967

Everyone is talking about the next Sandy Koufax, but the Braves’ Denny Lemaster wants only to be Denny Lemaster. His reasoning is simple. “There will never,” he said, “be another Sandy Koufax. If I can come within two miles of him, I’ll be happy.” No matter what Lemaster thinks, of course, comparisons are inevitable.

After blanking the Cardinals May 24, one could not help but think back about Koufax when a blister limited Lemaster to only his fast ball. Lemaster’s out pitch was the express, “the hummer”. “Donny had the best fast ball he has ever had,” said Lemaster’s catcher, Joe Torre. “He couldn’t get his curve over. You could count the curves he threw for strikes on one hand.” Oddly, Lemaster went into the game fearing old No. 1 had left him. “In my two games before this one,” the blond hurler pointed out, “I really didn’t have much of a fast ball. Oh, I’d throw a pretty good one at times, but only occasionally. I was getting a little worried. But in the game against the Cardinals, I threw it and boom, boom, boom – right in there with something on it.” Lemaster had been kayoed in the second inning at Forbes Field in his previous outing. “The thing that impressed me,” said Manager Billy Hitchcock, “was the fact that Denny didn’t have his good all-around stuff, and still pitched a shutout.”

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