When the 6-foot 2-inch Koufax graduated from Lafayette High School in 1953, his yearbook declared that he “has been scouted and will most likely be a professional basketball player.” The NBA was a backwater in the mid-1950s, but Koufax’s friend, the talk-show host Larry King, class of ’51 and team manager from an earlier Lafayette class, said that Koufax aspired to play for the Knicks.

Yes, Koufax also played baseball at the time, manning first base for the school team, but he was not much of a hitter. And no one had any premonition that he would become the pitcher that he did.

Instead, it was mostly basketball. In a Lafayette team photo, Koufax, No. 16, his biceps rippling, stands smiling beside his pal Fred Wilpon, No. 5, the future owner of the Mets and star pitcher on the baseball team. The Frenchies at the time were nearly all Jewish: Abramowitz, Weiss, Levine, Stolzenberg, Horwitz, Lichtman, Lichtenstein. And Koufax, whose yearbook entry featured these rather modest goals: “To be successful and make my family proud of me.”

–Reported by Richard Sandomir of the New York Times