Here’s a Sandy Koufax shocker: He’ll spend a night in the spotlight
Vin Scully says he’s surprised, Joe Torre‘sstill in shock, the mystery that is an elusive Sandy Koufax for so many years, about to take center stage in Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.
There might never be a night like the one with Scully &John Wooden sitting together for 90 minutes as they did 18 months ago, but filling those chairs Feb. 27 with Koufax & Torre has the makings of something just as special.
Koufax has taken such a low profile that even though he gave his approval to the 2002 book, “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy,” he would not consent to being interviewed by the author, Jane Leavy.
In his 1966 autobiography, Koufax wrote, “When I told [my mom] I was writing this book, she asked if I’d give her one of the first copies so she could find out something about me. ‘You never told me anything,’ ” she said.
Later he would add, “My folks didn’t know that I was playing baseball at [the University of] Cincinnati, possibly because I didn’t tell them.”
But now he’s agreed to sit across from Page 2 in front of 7,000 people, as good a guarantee as any that after Feb. 27 he will never speak publicly again -- making it truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Try not to talk to him before Feb. 27,” Torre suggested.
KOUFAX, THE Hall of Fame’s youngest inductee at age 36 after retiring at age 30, tossed four no-hitters, Scully’s “Two and two to Harvey Kuenn, one strike away,” to immortalize Koufax’s perfect game, still chilling today.
But beyond the history books, we know only bits and pieces. He has run marathons, he went to college on a basketball scholarship, he almost quit playing for the Dodgers before becoming a star, retiring later because of pain in his left arm -- an arm to this day he cannot straighten.
Some of what you hear is true, so much more a matter of misconception, finally a chance to separate the two.
And so why now, why has Koufax agreed to appear in front of so many people on Feb. 27 in Los Angeles?
It was as simple, it turned out, as asking him to do it for the benefit of those in need.
“I didn’t think he would,” said Torre, who hit two home runs off Koufax, while also striking out 15 times. “This really is a friend indeed. He said he would do it for me, and I’m touched.”
Tickets for Koufax & Torre go on public sale today, details to follow at the bottom of Page 2, money raised going to Safe At Home, Torre’s foundation to end the cycle of domestic abuse.
Torre, admittedly ashamed late into life after being a witness to abuse in his own home as a child, has plans to expand his New York program into L.A. schools in the name of his mother, Margaret.
It really is all about the charity, some of L.A.'s finest answering the request to help, Scully & Wooden agreeing to do so for the benefit of sick youngsters, raising more than $700,000 and asking only that they be treated more irreverently than reverently -- a sacrifice Page 2 was more than willing to make.
It takes a lot to raise the money to help, Verizon jumping in immediately because it’s a big sponsor of Torre’s efforts to fight abuse in the family. And as he did for Scully & Wooden, Tim Leiweke is providing the theater and PR guy Michael Roth for no charge -- the sneaky suspicion that it just gets Roth out of his thinning hair for the next 45 days.
Leiweke is also still a hockey/soccer/Beckham honk, so no need to begin canonization proceedings.
Last time, Jerry West made a special visit just before the event to speak to those who had purchased VIP dinner packages, and an announcement on this year’s superstar dinner guest is forthcoming. I wonder if Mike Garrett . . . never mind.
Maybe more importantly than anything, it takes two dynamic guests to make such a night entertaining, and while it would have made a huge difference had Torre’s team beaten the Phillies the past two years in the playoffs, Pete Carroll is no longer available.
“Hey, we won a game,” said Torre.
Only three managers in the history of baseball have won more World Series titles than Torre, who was a National League MVP primarily because Koufax had retired by then.
“I once struck out three times against him,” Torre said. “The fourth time I swung at the first thing I saw and popped out. What a relief, but then on my way back to the bench I realized I had already gotten myself out before going up there. He didn’t strike me out, but I was working on his behalf.”
Now Koufax will return the favor.
Tickets, $25 to $200, are available today via ticketmaster.com, or charge-by-phone lines at (800) 745-3000.
Special VIP experiences to join Koufax & Torre for dinner start at $2,500 and are available through Jennifer Lynch at (213) 742-7166.
“I’m surprised Sandy will be doing it, but happy for him,” Scully said. “He deserves a little more attention.
“I’m also happy for the people who will get the chance to see him. It’s so incredible.”
Scully & Wooden drew an enthusiastic crowd thick with fathers accompanied by sons. They were funny, poignant, Scully leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and Bill Walton providing salty and reflective commentary as Wooden taught a young cancer survivor how to put on shoes and socks to avoid getting blisters.
“And maybe you can teach this guy how to write,” Wooden told the youngster while looking toward Page 2.
For some reason the crowd found that humorous.
There isn’t a week that goes by someone doesn’t inquire about a DVD of the night, but there are none. Per the request of this year’s invitees, who really don’t want to be seen with Page 2 any more than necessary, this will also be a one-time-only presentation.
“Let me tell you,” Torre said, “when Sandy’s curveball went past you, it would make noise,” and he would know.