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Dodgers Unveil Statue Honoring Hall Of Fame Pitcher Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax in a Dodger blue suit jacket shakes hands with a man in a dark suit and tie in front of his bronze statue.
Sandy Koufax, left, shakes hands with the sculptor of his statue, Brandly Cadet, as the Los Angeles Dodgers unveil the statue in the Centerfield Plaza to honor the Hall of Famer and three-time Cy Young Award winner on Saturday.
(Keith Birmingham/AP
/
The Orange County Register)
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It's a big day at Dodger Stadium where the Dodgers unveiled another statue to join one honoring Jackie Robinson.

This time the honor goes to Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.

You think lefty ace Sandy Koufax and you think strikeout records and Cy Young Awards. Three in all, plus two World Series-clinching wins and four no-hitters. That last one was a perfect game.

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Beyond the game, Koufax was and is known as a man of principles.

Note: The ceremony starts at about the 33 minute mark in this recording of the live ceremony. Koufax speaks at about the 55 minute mark.

As a Jewish athlete he skipped a Game 1 World Series start in 1965 to observe Yom Kippur.

In 1966, Koufax and fellow ace Don Drysdale held out for more money than the Dodgers wanted to pay. After a couple of weeks, they got their money.

By that time, Koufax had endured years of painkillers and cortisone shots so he could pitch with an arthritic elbow. After that last season, Koufax had enough of feeling zoned out and sick during ballgames.

He retired at the age of 30.

In brief remarks Saturday, streamed on Twitter by the Dodgers, Koufax, now 86, talked about his career and teammates.

"Now, 67 years ago Jackie Robinson became my teammate and friend," he said. "At that time, sharing this space with him would have been absolutely unimaginable. And today it still is. It's one of the greatest honors of my life."

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He joked "conventional wisdom has always been don't give an old man a microphone, they've got too many years to talk about."

Koufax noted that his first passion was basketball and he only tried baseball because his best friend, who was the best pitcher on the high school team. He said two other pitchers were better than him, so he started elsewhere.

He got his shot through the father of a friend at a time when he said he "didn't even know what the hell pitching was."

He was invited to tryout for the team as a freshman at University of Cincinnati, where he described his abilities as "wasn't great, wasn't bad."

Koufax described his start with the Dodgers as a rocky due to how contracts worked at the time. But he said "Jackie was went out of his way to make me feel welcome and I'll never forget his kindness on that."

After speaking for about eight minutes, Koufax thanked his family and friends, wished everyone a great day at the game and finished with: "I'm done."

The Dodgers play the Cleveland Guardians with the first pitch scheduled for 4:15 p.m.

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