Willie Stargell called hitting against Sandy Koufax like “trying to drink coffee with a fork.” And so it was. Koufax, the hype-aversive legend sometimes dubbed “the J.D. Salinger of baseball,” dominated the sport from 1962-1966 like no pitcher before or since. He made his mark off the field as well, refusing to pitch on Yom Kippur and retiring at his peak in 1966, after 12 years with the Brooklyn and L.A. Dodgers, to avoid further injuring his arthritic left elbow.
Karp asks Leavy:
What was your lasting impression of Koufax?
Two words were used for him by ballplayers. He’s “class” and a “gentle, gentle man,” in the old sense. Picture that coming out of the mouths of so many sweaty ballplayers.
A legitimate hero.