A few months after the 1965 season, Sandy Koufax was visiting with Dr. Robert Kerlan in his office, talking about the pitchers ailing left elbow.
"If it were you, how much longer would you pitch?" Koufax said he asked Kerlan.
"If it were me, one more year," Kerlan said.
Koufax – 29 years old at the time – nodded.
"Next year will be my last," Koufax told Bavasi.
All three men laughed when they’d retell that story, and it comes to mind today because Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina has announced his retirement, and becomes the first man since Koufax to retire after a 20-win season.
That tells you how rare it is for a pitcher, whatever his reason, to willingly leave while on top.
This is an age where great pitchers gut their reputations by sticking around too long for a payday or a milestone, and yes, Randy Johnson does come to mind.