Monday, March 01, 2010

Sandy Koufax

Although we’ve since switched our allegiance--first to the Padres when we lived in San Diego and then to the Angels in 2002--Tim and I both grew-up worshipping the Dodgers. One of my favorite memories of junior high school was when a classmate, who had surreptitiously smuggled a transistor radio onto campus, suddenly yelled out that the Dodgers had won the World Series. We all shared in his glee and cheered!

Between the two of us, Tim is the only one old enough to remember when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s (I was only 3 years old). But we both remember, quite fondly, the team’s star pitcher, Sandy Koufax. Tim admired Koufax as an athlete. But I loved him because he was left-handed, like me, and because he was Jewish (I had a crush on a Jewish boy at the time). We both remain staunch Koufax fans because of his integrity and historic Hall of Fame career, even though he hasn’t played professional baseball in over 40 years.

Part of Koufax’s allure, of course, is that he’s pretty much stayed out of the public’s eye since retiring in the late 1960s. Indeed, he is considered by many to be a recluse--a charge he refuted Saturday night in a rare interview before a sold-out crowd at the Nokia theater. The event was a fundraiser for Dodgers manager Joe Torre’s anti-violence Safe at Home Foundation. Torre was interviewed, too, though obviously most, if not all, of us were there to see “Sandy the K.”

Koufax and Torre both looked damn good for men in their 70s. They were interviewed by T. J. Simers, an obnoxious L.A. Times sportswriter who loves to provoke his subjects. (Many in the audience booed when he walked onstage!) Still, Koufax graciously answered his questions and shared stories of the old days, but wisely didn’t fall into any of Simers’ verbal traps about his personal life. Torre, on the other hand, was very candid about growing-up with an abusive father, hence the impetus for his Foundation.

When it was all over, Koufax and Torre walked off-stage to a standing ovation--something both men deserved and certainly should be used to by now.

Photo credit: L.A. Times (2/28/10)

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