Koufax, Baseball & the Power of One

Sunday evening, November 2, 2002

Dear Colin,

Sometimes it takes something good to remind you of times better than good. The something good was Nancy and I spending time at our favorite book store two weeks ago. On a whim I picked up the book Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy.

Every page of the book reminded me of times better than good. You the Dodger fan and I the fan of who ever the Dodgers were playing! I remember spending nights at your (parent’s) home. If it was summer and it was a night game; you had the radio on listening to Vin Scully describing every pitch, hit, throw, the crowd, the evening sky – an American game and a way of life.

Not only did it remind me of you but my total childhood. It was a good time – simpler not because of the times but that we were children with no worries. I remember pool baseball; hitting hardballs towards Albert’s palm tree – and Albert now a grandfather; summer time Risk and Monopoly games that would last for days; riding our bikes with our bowling balls balanced on the bar to Lucky Strike or Cactus lanes; summer mornings at the gas station folding newspapers and then making our deliveries; and just having fun.

But the book brought all these memories back because you were a true-blue Dodger blue fan. Because the Dodgers meant so much to you they mean so much to me when I think of childhood summer. Koufax, Drysdale, Osteen, Perranoski, Wills, Roseboro, Gilliam, Lefebvre, Johnson, Fairly, Parker, Davis, Alston, O’Malley and all the others.

It is strange that I can name more 1960s Dodgers than probably 2002 baseball players on all major league teams combined. I lost my interest in baseball after the strike in the early 90s. Baseball, as I; has changed and lost its childhood innocence. The book reminds one of an innocence out grown.

Sandy Koufax was a special person to even a non-Dodger fan like myself. He pitched and controlled the game as no one else has since or before – this from someone who grew up wanting to think that Whitey Ford was the best pitcher on arguably the best ball team to play baseball.

I do remember his decision not to pitch on Yon Kippur and the great Drysdale and Koufax holdout. Neither event at the time seemed that important to me but I now understand how strong a person has to be to stand up for their beliefs. It’s Koufax’s beliefs in himself as a person of one who had the strength to say no to the many that makes him a hero – not the blazing fastball or the falling off the table curve ball or the perfect game or all the awards for his athletic power but the ability to stand up and do what he believed was fair and right.

I hope this letter finds Rebecca and you in good health. Should you ever decide to visit Denver where the golf ball flies farther in summer (the snow this week will hinder its flight and makes it incredibly hard to find), please come stay with us.

To those wonderful childhood summer days and nights – thanks.

Your friend always,