Koufax Stands Up and Delivers
A private and reticent Sandy Koufax, one of nine pitchers selected to baseball’s all-century team, appeared at a media interview session in conjunction with the team’s introduction before Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday and was asked if he was apprehensive about being exposed to an hour of questioning.
“There wasn’t any apprehension,” the former Dodger left-hander said, “but I’d almost rather have a root canal.”
Koufax, however, was patient and revealing. A resident of the Vero Beach area who has periodically worked for the Dodgers during spring training, Koufax said he recently rejected a chance to join the organization on a full-time basis--perhaps even as pitching coach.
“Kevin asked me if I’d be interested,” he said, referring to General Manager Kevin Malone, “but I don’t want a regular position. First of all, you get older and you start looking funny in a uniform. I’m 63 and not interested in traveling that regularly, and I’m certainly not interested in a front-office position. Those people put in 18 hour days. They’re in the office long before the game and long after it.”
The Dodgers under Fox have been criticized for not embracing a rich tradition and including their former stars in the current organization.
Asked if he retains his previous attachments and feelings toward the Dodgers, Koufax said, “It’s hard. I grew up with Peter O’Malley and his sister, Terry. We’re the same age. Part of my affinity for the organization is the people. I’m still a fan, but it’s not the same people, so the feelings and emotions are different. That affinity is not the same.”
Koufax said he regarded the all-century team, basically selected in a vote of the fans, as primarily a popularity situation because of the difficultly in comparing players of different eras. He added that any post-playing honors are basically anti-climactic because nothing can top the special feeling of sharing a World Series triumph with teammates who have worked toward that goal for six months.
Koufax was questioned on a variety of subjects and said there are several pitchers he enjoys watching, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson “just because his stuff is so good.” Of his all-century teammates, he said Willie Mays was the best player he ever saw and Hank Aaron was the best hitter and that “raises the question of where do you put [Roberto] Clemente [who was not selected]. With Willie? With Henry? He’s right there.”
Of the pitchers, Koufax laughed and said he would take Warren Spahn “but not for what he did on the field. I mean, he’ll kill me for saying this, but he pitched for the whole damn century.”
Now, the private Koufax said, he’s ready to move on to the next century. Enough questions about the man and the past.
“I’ll be glad when it’s 2001 and we can start talking about the next 100 years,” he said.