Cover image for Sandy Koufax : a lefty's legacy
Sandy Koufax : a lefty's legacy
Leavy, Jane.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxii, 282 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.9 18.0 75515.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV865.K67 L43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV865.K67 L43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV865.K67 L43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV865.K67 L43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV865.K67 L43 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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"The incomparable and mysterious Sandy Koufax is revealed.... This is an absorbing book, beautifully written." --Wall Street Journal

"Leavy has hit it out of the park...A lot more than a biography. It's a consideration of how we create our heroes, and how this hero's self perception distinguishes him from nearly every other great athlete in living memory... a remarkably rich portrait." -- Time

The instant New York Times bestseller about the baseball legend and famously reclusive Dodgers' pitcher Sandy Koufax, from award-winning former Washington Post sportswriter Jane Leavy. Sandy Koufax reveals, for the first time, what drove the three-time Cy Young award winner to the pinnacle of baseball and then--just as quickly--into self-imposed exile.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sandy Koufax had the five greatest consecutive seasons of any pitcher in major-league history. From 1962 through 1966 he lead the National League in earned-run average every year and won at least 25 games three times. In 1966, an arthritic pitching arm caused his retirement. Except for a brief stint as a broadcaster, Koufax shunned the spotlight after he stopped playing. Leavy, an award-winning former Washington Post sports journalist, brings us up to date on the "lefty's legacy," interviewing hundreds of Koufax's former teammates, opponents, friends, and family members. Their respect for the man is remarkable. The words most often associated with him are "gentle" and "integrity." This is a book about Koufax, but Levy also uses his career to examine the changes baseball has undergone in the last four decades, noting that when Koufax and teammate Don Drysdale refused to work without better pay, they sowed the seeds for future collective bargaining. Koufax was a hero to a generation on the basis of his pitching accomplishments. This biography will earn him further respect for a life well lived. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sportswriter Leavy describes her book as not so much a biography of a ballplayer as a social history of baseball, with the former star pitcher's career as the barometer of change. While both a preface and an introduction spin Leavy's storytelling wheels, a compelling, literary social history does indeed get rolling. Koufax refused to participate in the project, so Leavy has spoken to hundreds of people with something to share on the former Brooklyn/L.A. Dodger Hank Aaron, Joe Torre, childhood friend and Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon and even the old Dodgers equipment manager among them and their testimonies make for a rich baseball pastiche and an engaging look at the game's more innocent period. Koufax capped off his first year by watching the 1955 World Series against the hated Yankees from the bench, and following the Dodgers' historic victory headed from Yankee Stadium to class at Columbia University, where he studied architecture (in case the baseball thing didn't work out). Even when Leavy's historical anecdotes are quaint, they prove timely: she details Koufax holding out for a better contract with fellow star pitcher Don Drysdale in '66, paving the way for free agency. While Leavy's interest in Koufax's Jewish heritage at times seems to border on the obsessive, she delivers an honest and exquisitely detailed examination of a complex man, one whose skills were such that slugger Willie Stargell once likened hitting against Koufax to "trying to drink coffee with a fork." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This highly anticipated book affords a lucid examination of arguably major league baseball's all-time greatest southpaw pitcher, from his bonus baby days with the world-champion Brooklyn Dodgers to his receipt of three Cy Young awards as the game's top moundsman. But Leavy's (Squeeze Play) story is far richer than simply a tale of the promising youngster who finally struck gold. Calling on her hundreds of interviews, she offers a richly drawn account of an often misunderstood yet greatly celebrated athlete. Leavy also captures a not-too-distant era in American life when the scourge of anti-Semitism never lurked far beneath the surface. Koufax comes across as a boy from Brooklyn who was comfortable with his secular brand of Jewishness but didn't need to wear it on his sleeve. He was also a naturally gifted celebrity athlete, blessed by unique musculature, long fingers perfectly suited for power pitching, and movie-star looks. At the same time, the battles Koufax endured, with his own youthful problems and his manager, made him more determined to excel in the fashion that he would, particularly in five golden years, 1962-66, when he shone as baseball's finest. Offering an apt analysis of Koufax and pitching partner Don Drysdale's role in challenging baseball's antiquated reserve clause, this biography also dispels the notion that its subject, once out of baseball, proved a tormented soul. Highly recommended.-R.C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Sandy Koufax A Lefty's Legacy Chapter One Warming Up Three decades after he threw his last pitch, Sandy Koufax was back in uniform at Dodgertown, a rare occurrence given his belief that baseball uniforms do not flatter those of a certain age. This is where he made his debut in the spring of 1955 and Vero Beach is where he has chosen to make his after-baseball home -- an odd choice for a man said not to like the game and the attention it brings him. Mornings when he's in town, he works out in the training room. The clubhouse guys gave him a key. He brings the bagels. On this particular day in February 1997, he was at Dodgertown for a seminar on sports medicine. He had been recruited by Frank Jobe, the Dodgers' team physician, to teach an audience of biomechanical experts how to throw a ball. He couldn't very well say no: he was on Jobe's operating table at the time. He had torn his rotator cuff falling down the stairs. The Boys of Summers Past are not immune to senior moments. Thinking of Koufax as clumsy is as disconcerting as the sight of the familiar "32" confined to this minimalist stage: sitting behind a buntingdraped table in a multipurpose room at what is now known as the Conference Center at Dodgertown. He looked thinner than in memory, thirty pounds less than his playing weight, the legacy of an afterlife as a marathoner. The old baggy uniforms always made him look less imposing than he was. His hair was thinner too, but silver, not gray. He had the appearance of a man aging as well as one possibly can, somehow managing to look graceful in uniform while perched beside a droopy fern. In 1955, Dodgertown was a baseball plantation with diamonds that disappeared into the orange groves on the horizon. No one could have envisioned then the industry that baseball would become; the science that throwing would become; or the pitcher Koufax would become. A pitcher so sublime, people remember always the first time they saw him -- among them fellow lecturers Duke Snider and Dave Wallace. What Wallace, a baseball man, recalls most is leaving the stadium convinced: "The ball comes out of his hand different from anybody else's." His virtuosity was a synthesis of physiognomy and physical imagination. He didn't just dominate hitters or games. He dominated the ball. He could make it do things: rise, break, sing. Gene Mauch, the old Phillies skipper, was once asked if Koufax was the best lefty he ever saw. Mauch replied: "The best righty, too." As Billy Williams, the Hall of Famer, put it: "There was a different tone when people talked about Sandy Koufax." Hank Aaron was his toughest out: "You talk about the Gibsons and the Drysdales and the Spahns. And as good as those guys were, Koufax was a step ahead of them. No matter who he pitched against, he could always be a little bit better. If somebody pitched a one-hitter, he could pitch a no-hitter." John Roseboro was his favorite receiver: "I think God came down and tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'Boy, I'm gonna make you a pitcher.' God only made one of him." He was an artist who inspired ballplayers to reach beyond their usual idiom for metaphor and simile. They called him the game's Cary Grant and Fred Astaire and compared him to the Mona Lisa and the David . "He looked like Michelangelo," Ernie Banks said. "Pitching, walking, what ever he did was kind of in rhythm with life, stylish ." Sometimes one analogy did not suffice. As Koufax's teammate, the noted art historian Lou Johnson, said, "He was Michelangelo and Picasso rolled into one." Absent the radar guns and computer-generated technology of the late twentieth century, which turned acts of grace into biomechanical models, he was admired rather than analyzed. His fastball remains elegantly understated, unmeasurable, unknowable. His curveball lives on in grainy television footage and in the memory of the unfortunates who tried to hit it. There are those, romantics and catchers, content to leave it at that -- Roseboro among them: "That SOB was unusual. There's never been another like him and I don't think there ever will be. Trying to explain how he throws, how he got his control, how he thinks -- he was just un- fucking -usual. Who gives a shit how he threw it?" Koufax cared. Long after he retired, he became a roving pitching coach in the Dodgers' minor league system and a stealth advisor to an ardent cadre of pitchers, coaches, and managers who quote him like a shaman -- Sandy says! -- and then get in line for his autograph just like everyone else. He didn't want them to do what he said because Sandy Koufax said, "Do it." He wanted them to understand why it worked. He had come to see his body as a system for the delivery of stored energy, intuiting the principles of physics inherent in the pitching motion. This realization not only put him ahead of batters, it put him ahead of science. It would take decades for the gurus of biotech medicine to catch up. Later, when he had the time, he visited their labs and delved into their textbooks seeking proofs for what he knew empirically to be true. He learned to break down the pitching motion into its component parts and to put the science of motion into accessible language. He improvised drills using a bag of balls and a chain-link fence, giving impromptu clinics in the parking lot of Bobby's Restaurant in Vero Beach. He held whole pitching staffs in thrall with his knowledge -- sitting, as John Franco of the Mets put it, "bright-eyed at his feet in the middle of the locker room like little boy scouts." His face changes when he talks about pitching. His eyes light up, his grammar comes alive ... Sandy Koufax A Lefty's Legacy . Copyright © by Jane Leavy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.