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What Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw and Joe Torre stated at Koufax’s statue unveiling


Clayton Kershaw and Joe Torre have been the first audio system forward of the revealing of a bronze statue of Hall of Famer Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax on the Centerfield Plaza at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

Torre performed towards Koufax through the Sixties, and he opened his remarks with a quip, “I have to be careful how I word things, because I say I hit against Sandy Koufax, but I have to take that back. I faced Sandy Koufax.”

Kershaw has been mentored all through his profession by Koufax, a fellow left-hander whose whole profession was performed with the Dodgers.

Following the revealing of the statue created by the identical sculptor, Branly Cadet, who created the one in every of Jackie Robinson that was unveiled in 2015, the usually reticent Koufax spoke for 10 minutes.

Following a video of his profession highlights, here’s what Koufax stated:

“I think the film said everything I wanted to say, so I’ll be leaving now. (laughs)

“Sixty-seven years in the past, Jackie Robinson grew to become my teammate and pal. At that point, sharing this house with him would have been completely unimaginable. And right this moment it nonetheless is. It’s one of many nice honors of my life. I’m additionally honored to have two superb buddies right here. Clayton and Joe, thanks for being right here. Thank you for the sort phrases. It’s been enjoyable realizing you each.

“Conventional wisdom has always said, ‘Don’t give an old man a microphone, he’s got too many years to talk about.’ I’m going to start way back at the beginning. In high school, my life was all about basketball, I didn’t even know baseball existed. After my senior of basketball was over, I decided I’m going out for the baseball team because my best friend was their best pitcher, Fred Wilpon.

“So I stated, OK, I’m going out for baseball. They had two different good pitchers, so I ended up both in proper discipline or at first base, wherever. But our catcher was Walter Laurie, whose father, Milton, ran a sandlot baseball group. He was at our practices and video games generally. I’ve to thank him, I believe he began this journey right here. He requested me to return pitch for his group, and I didn’t know what the hell pitching was principally, however I stated OK. He labored for the outdated Journal American newspaper and on recreation days his supply van grew to become the group bus. Without him, this in all probability wouldn’t have occurred.

“The next year I went to the University of Cincinnati. I wasn’t a walk-on, I was invited to come. I didn’t have a scholarship. I made the team, I wasn’t a starter, I wasn’t great, I wasn’t bad. But the freshman coach was Ed Junker, who was also the baseball coach. The baseball team was going to New Orleans and I decided I wanted to go to New Orleans. So I volunteered. Freshmen weren’t eligible, so on that trip I pitched against an Air Force base and during the season I pitched two nonconference games.

“And so with that large amount of expertise, that winter I signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Which was much more stunning than the considered enjoying for the New York Knicks. But I went to spring coaching at Vero Beach with completely no clue of what to do. The solely motive I used to be within the huge leagues was they’d provide you with a brand new rule to discourage groups from giving out bonuses. If they gave you greater than $4,000 to signal, you needed to spend the following two years within the main leagues.

“My presence on the roster wasn’t a happy experience for a lot of people. You took other people’s jobs, maybe you took somebody else’s job. But Jackie went out of his way to make me feel welcome and I’ll never forget his kindness on that. The team was pretty special in 1955. To think that five guys on that team are now in the HOF and one more should be. Don Newcombe was probably the outstanding pitcher of that time, and Don took me aside right away and said, ‘Pitching is hard work. If you aren’t working hard, and are making it easy, you aren’t doing it right.’ I believe that and I lived by that.

“The Dodgers’ success within the ’50s and the early ’60s has the fingerprints of so many individuals on it. It’s onerous to explain how so lots of them carried out so effectively to place us ready to play on a grand stage, the World Series.

“The list of people is incredibly long, but I’m going to go through some as quickly as I can: My first pitching coach Joe Becker, he believed in me from the start and I’ve never figured out why. My second pitching coach, Lefty Phillips. My manager, Walter Alston, he was my only manager. I’m not sure if he was happy with me as a bonus player, but we came to have a pretty good relationship through the years. All my roommates, Doug Camilli, Dick Tracewski, Norm Sherry, Carl Furillo. When you spend so many hours in one room, you become like family.

“Most of all I thank my teammates, all of them. All the catchers. There is a particular relationship between pitchers and catchers. John Roseboro, principally my catcher more often than not, our relationship was unbelievable. Never any doubt, once I regarded in on the indicators, actually the place I needed throw, John didn’t create any doubt in my thoughts.

“Our all-switch-hitting infield, Jim Lefebvre, Wes Parker, Jim Gilliam, Maury Wills, they were great defensively. Jim Gilliam played anywhere you needed him. Maury Wills came up in the middle of 1959 and made himself through sheer will the most potent offensive player in the game. Every base hit, every walk, was a double or triple.

“Willie Davis, together with his pace, ran down all of your errors. Tommy Davis was one of many excellent hitters of his time. You take a look at his numbers in 1962 when he batted. .346 with an unbelievable 153 RBIs. He was nice. It’s simply onerous to recollect all people. We had two relievers: In 1963 Ron Perranowski was 16-3 in reduction, and in 1966 Phil Regan was 13-1 in reduction. So they weren’t pitching one inning of reduction, they have been pitching fairly a number of.

“And all the other guys who sat in the left-field bullpen. Our starting pitchers Johnny Podres, Carl Erskine, Joe Moeller, Don Sutton — the Dodgers only 300-game winner — and, of course, Don Drysdale. We were together 11 years and grew up together. We were friends but I think in some ways we were competitors because he set a standard of excellence I tried to live up to and I had an excellence he tried to live up to. And I think it made us both better.

“I can’t overlook Al Ferrara as a result of he’s from Brooklyn. . . . Frank Howard, not a lot to say about him besides a number of the balls he hit should still be going.

“Our trainers Bill Buhler and Wayne Anderson did their best to keep us on the field. Inside the clubhouse, our equipment manager and also good friend was Nobe Kawano. Vin Scully, well there’s a lot of talk these days about the greatest of all time. GOAT used to be a bad thing, now it’s greatest of all time. Well, that’s the end of the discussion. Vin Scully is the greatest of all time. No discussion. It’s him. The O’Malley’s were great owners who did their best to make our lives as comfortable as possible.

“I believe my solely remorse right this moment is that so many are now not with us and I’m unable to allow them to understand how a lot I thank them and appreciated them. Thank you to all of the followers who handled me so effectively, and inform them how fortunate they’re to have such a aggressive group to root for for thus a few years. Andrew Friedman and his workers, and the house owners who made this group attainable . . . and my different favourite No. 32, Magic Johnson.

“For all of you who came out thank you. To my family and friends. . . . I love you one and all. I’m done.”

Koufax and Kershaw bonded years in the past. Kershaw grew to become emotional throughout his speech on the statue unveiling. Here is what he stated:

“It really is an honor to speak today. Sandy and Jane [Koufax] have meant so much to my family throughout the years, so to have the opportunity to do this is really special.

“After getting drafted by the Dodgers, whether or not you ask for it or not, you get indoctrinated on the historical past of the group and all of the gamers who’ve come earlier than you. More particularly as a pitcher, you start to know the excellence on the mound that has characterised the group and what will probably be anticipated of you.

“There have been so many incredible pitchers in the Dodgers’ storied history, and you get to hear about them a lot, but Sandy stood out, he always did.

Sandy Koufax and wife Jane Purucker Clarke pose next to the statue of Koufax at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

Sandy Koufax and wife Jane Purucker Clarke pose next to the statue of Koufax at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. (Kirby Lee / Associated Press)

“I bear in mind one of many first occasions I received to take a seat down and converse to Sandy, it was on a flight to L.A. for Joe’s charity occasion. And I used to be sitting there, and I believed, Sandy and Joe, some outdated ballplayers, I’m simply gonna have to take a seat by means of ‘Back when we played,’ or, ‘This is how I used to do it,’ and I believed I used to be going to have to take a seat by means of that the entire flight.

“But it was a far cry from that. I got to know Sandy on that flight and after that I thought, Wow, Sandy genuinely cares about how I’m going to do in this game. From then on I was able to talk to Sandy. He’d call me when good things happened and congratulate me. He’d call me when bad things happened to encourage me. He’d even call during the offseason to check in on Ellen and I and see how the chaos of our life had gone with our four kids.

“And Sandy, I hope sometime I can influence somebody the best way you’ve championed me. You actually have, left-handed pitcher or not, simply in life. And on Thursday, I known as Harlan, our mutual pal, simply to see what I ought to say, what I ought to discuss up right here. And you occurred to be there with him on the time, and also you took the cellphone and also you stated, ‘I heard you were struggling with your breaking ball, let me help you.’ And he informed me to remain tall. That was it. It was easy, it was useful and it additionally was caring. It was additionally real, and people are the qualities that I love most.

“In the years and generations to come, I hope a kid sees this statue and asks his mom or dad about Sandy Koufax, and I hope they tell him he was a great pitcher, but more than that he was a great man who represented the Dodgers with humility, kindness, and passion, and class. And for every rookie who sees this statue for the first time and asks, was he any good?, I hope the veterans tell him simply that he was the best to ever do it.

“And for me, I used to be trying again on the time we have been at Vin’s retirement ceremony on the sphere and one thing you stated caught with me, about Vin. You stated that the factor you treasure most about Vin is that he means that you can name him a pal. And that’s the identical for me. So, I’m grateful for that Sandy [Kershaw holds back tears]. I do know you don’t consider it, however there isn’t a yet another deserving of this honor. Congratulations.

Joe Torre, the previous Dodgers supervisor who performed towards Koufax, spoke first. This is what he stated:

“I look around and I can probably say safely I’m the only one in this crowd right now who faced Sandy Koufax. (Laughs)

“One factor about it, once I was enjoying, at the moment there have been newspapers, so that you’d take a look at possible pitchers in a collection arising, and whenever you performed the Dodgers you’d look and I’ll be darn if it wasn’t Koufax and Drysdale once more, each 4 days.

“I have to be careful how I word things because I say I hit against Sandy Koufax, but I have to take that back: I faced Sandy Koufax.

“I wish to say he was one in every of a form. Very particular. I used to be a teammate of one other one in every of a form, and that was Bob Gibson. These two are in a category, I don’t know what you’ll be able to say aside from the belief issue was so big and once they went on the market it was nothing however enterprise.

“Think about facing Sandy. Fastball, curveball, pretty simple, right? However, and I was watching a video Hank Aaron did, and they asked him about Sandy’s fastball, and Hank would say, ‘Yeah, it would start here (points to his belt) and finish up here (points to his neck).’ And the person doing the interview said, ‘That can’t happen.’ And Hank would say, ‘Well, maybe it can’t happen, but it happens.’

“If I used to be on the lookout for Sandy’s fastball, one I needed to hit, it must, in my eye, be ankle excessive to begin with as a result of then it could end someplace in right here (motions to thigh excessive). And then the curveball must be up right here someplace (motions above head) as a result of if you happen to regarded for it at a hitter’s spot, it’d be within the grime.

“He was remarkable. And you knew he was pitching because you could hear it, whether it was his fastball or his curveball, you could hear it go, pffffft. That’s rotation, or as they say, spin rate, right? That’s what they talk about nowadays, spin rate.

“He was a winner. He went on the market and gave you every thing he had, and if it was adequate, good for him. If it wasn’t, to be it, he’d be on the market once more in two, three or 4 days. I did discover somewhat little bit of a hiccup although. We have been doing an interview 10 or 12 years in the past and I regarded up some stats and I noticed his [1963] numbers, you already know 25-5, earned-run common 1.88, and there was one factor that caught my consideration. There have been seven intentional walks. Now, when you’ve a 1.88 ERA, who the heck are you afraid to pitch to? So I posed that query to Sandy, and he stated, ‘They are all named Henry Aaron.’

In his profession, and his profession was abbreviated, 12 years if you wish to rely the primary two when he had lower than 100 innings pitched, he put some numbers collectively. Celebrating his fiftieth 12 months within the Hall of Fame, which is superb. He’s a particular man, not solely his capacity to pitch and be a teammate, however being a pal. And I like this man.

So I’m simply proud to be right here to share what we’re all going to see in a couple of minutes. But, it’s nice seeing you Sandy.

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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