Steve Lipman’s illuminating article on the brilliant if enigmatic Sandy Koufax deserves high praise (“Where Have You Gone, Sandy Koufax?” March 14).
With the possible exception of biographer Jane Leavy, Lipman has teased more information from and about former Dodger pitcher and current Hall of Famer Koufax than any other writer, including the best and brightest among sports mavens. To illustrate this observation, I would like to share my baffling experience with Mr. Koufax.
In 1997, I co-hosted a celebration of Jackie Robinson’s 50th anniversary of breaking modern baseball’s color barrier. I invited a host of outstanding baseball veterans — players, broadcasters and writers — to Long Island University. Most of the invitees showed up. These luminaries included Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Lou Brock, Frank Robinson, several of Jackie Robinson’s teammates and Enos Slaughter, but no Sandy Koufax. Two weeks prior to the events at the Brooklyn campus, I received a letter from Pompano Beach, Florida. It read: “You have reached the wrong Sandy Koufax.” The letter was signed, “Bobby Thomson.”
Was this a clever evasion or a barb of Brooklyn Jewish humor, or both? I still cannot answer this riddle wrapped in an enigma.
Fortunately, [after missing the first game of the 1965 World Series because of Yom Kippur] and on only two days of rest, Koufax pitched a brilliant three-hit shutout, leading the Dodgers to win the pivotal seventh game and a world championship. It was a very good year for Koufax and his team. It was a great year for the Jews.