In 1966, Sandy Koufax, then the greatest pitcher in baseball, held out for a $100,000-plus salary for the new season. He was so stubborn a holdout that by the time the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to pay him $135,000 a season-the most ever paid to a pitcher in all major-league history-he had missed the entire spring training grind.
Nevertheless, that season southpaw Koufax had the most glorious season a big-league pitcher ever enjoyed. He won 27 games, he hurled a no-hitter, he led the league in earned-run average, he led the league in strikeouts with 317, and he led the Dodgers to a pennant. He also won the coveted Cy Young Award, acclaiming him the greatest pitcher in baseball.
But when Sandy Koufax was asked if he regretted missing spring training because of his holdout battle, and if he might have achieved more if he hadn’t missed spring training that season, he seriously made the most amusing understatement of the year when he said:
“I sure regret missing spring training. If I hadn’t missed it, I certainly would have improved my batting average of .118!”