The instant New York Times bestseller about the baseball legend and famously reclusive Dodgers’ pitcher Sandy Koufax. SANDY KOUFAX reveals, for the first time, what drove the three-time Cy Young award winner to the pinnacle of baseball and then—just as quickly—into self-imposed exile.
In an era when too many heroes have been toppled from too many pedestals, SANDY KOUFAX stands apart and alone, a legend who declined his own celebrity. As a pitcher, he was sublime, the ace of baseball lore. As a human being, he aspired to be the one thing his talent and his fame wouldn’t allow: a regular guy. A Brooklyn kid, he was the product of the sedate and modest fifties who came to define and dominate baseball in the sixties. In SANDY KOUFAX: A Lefty’s Legacy, former award-winning Washington Post sportswriter Jane Leavy delivers an uncommon baseball book, vividly re-creating the Koufax era, when presidents were believed and pitchers aspired to go the distance.
He was only a teenager when Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley proclaimed him “the Great Jewish Hope” of the franchise. But it wasn’t until long after the team had abandoned Brooklyn that the man became the myth. Old-fashioned in his willingness to play when he was injured and in his acute sense of responsibility to his team, Koutax answered to an authority higher than manager Walter Alston. When he refused to pitch the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, he inadvertently made himself a religious icon and an irrevocably public figure. A year later, he was gone — done with baseball at age thirty. No other sports hero had retired so young, so well, or so completely.
Despite Sandy Koufax’s best efforts to protect his privacy, his legend has grown larger ever since. Part biography, part cultural history, SANDY KOUFAX gets as close to that legend as he will allow. Through meticulous reporting and interviews with five hundred of his friends, teammates, and opponents, Leavy penetrates the mythology to discover a man more than worthy of myth.
“Leavy has hit it out of the park…A lot more than a biography. It’s a consideration of how we create our heroes, and how this hero’s self perception distinguishes him from nearly every other great athlete in living memory…a remarkably rich portrait.”
— Daniel Okrent, Time
“Ms. Leavy has done a dizzying amount of reporting—more than 400 interviews—and Koufax doesn’t just survive the scrutiny, he emerges from it larger than ever…Ms. Leavy humanizes her subject even as she demythologizes him. The incomparable and mysterious Sandy Koufax is revealed…This is an absorbing book, beautifully written.”
— Jonathan Mahler, Wall Street Journal
“A perfect game of a book…Jane Leavy scatters the clouds of mythology to show us, after all these years, the man Koufax.”
— The Sporting News
“A baseball classic; the first in-depth reporting on the life and career of the Dodger icon…a must read.”
— New York Daily News
“An exhaustively researched study that paints an intriguing portrait of the famously reclusive Dodger pitcher.”
— Sports Illustrated
“An honest and exquisitely detailed examination of a complex man.”
— Publishers Weekly