Matt's Reviews > Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy

Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy
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Jan 31, 08

Recommended for: baseball fans, dodger fans, nostalgia fans

as a lifelong dodger fan, i'm always interested in reading about dodgers past and dodgers present. i wasn't around to witness sandy koufax and don drysdale pitch in person [though i'd give just about anything to experience it!], so what i do know about the brooklyn/los angeles dodgers prior to 1978-ish is limited to what i've read in books and magazines and the occassional black and white news footage.

when the dodgers moved west and broke a million brooklyn hearts, sandy koufax was on the verge of greatness. his first five years were average at best. his second five years, however, are perhaps the five greatest cumulative years any pitcher has ever amassed. then at age 31 sandy koufax walked away from the game, deciding that his left shoulder and elbow were far to important him to suffer another year of almost daily cortizone shots and intense physical therapy and the prospect of surgery and limited movement in the future. on the one hand it would have been quite a thing so see what sandy koufax would have done in another two or three years of pitching [had his arm allowed him], but at the same time, you have to tip your cap to a man who stuck to his principles in the face of public scrutiny.

to this day sandy koufax remains one of the most elusive and enigmatic [and revered] figures in the world of baseball. every so often he appears at dodgertown in vero beach, florida and dispenses wisdom to up and coming pitchers, but then just as quickly retreats to the shadows. in shouldn't really come as surprise, then, that sandy koufax, allegedly, refused to part in leavy's book, which really isn't a biography at all. sure, there are dates and facts about the man, and plenty of anecdotes, but leavy correctly focuses the bulk of her book on koufax's impact and legacy on both brooklyn and los angeles fans, and on jewish fans and community in particular [sandy koufax is jewish]. leavy interviews a lot of people and did a tremendous amount of research for the book; the stories she relates from baseball fans who used to hide under their covers with their transistor radios [something i'm all too familiar with] to listen to the inimitable and great vin scully call a koufax-pitched game, to a fan who tape-recorded one of koufax's four no-hitters on a reel-to-reel tape thingy, to the story of fan who video taped koufax's fourth no-hitter [i believe it was the fourth] from his seat at dodger stadium--the only known video record of the game, if i remember correctly, are a joy to read [leavy writes in a very colloquial, easy-to-read style that seems to be in shorter supply these days].

as the book winded to a close, i don't know that i necessarily knew sandy koufax any better than i already did, but i had a much better understanding of his profound effect on broolyn-ites and angelinos alike. hopefully someday we'll get the story straight from the horses mouth [though it doesn't sound likely], but until then, leavy's 'sandy koufax: a lefty's legacy' is a fine addition to the rich world of baseball literature and a wonderful look a seemingly simpler time of nights at dodger stadium, hot dog and coke in hand, vin scully on the radio, and the spindly, imposing lefty on the mound kicking his leg high and unleashing all manner of unholy pitchery on the opposing hitter...
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