The Los Angeles Dodgers immortalized one of their all-time greats by unveiling a Sandy Koufax statue at Dodger Stadium. It’s located in the center field plaza next to Jackie Robinson’s statue, an honor that Koufax expressed his gratitude and amazement over.
Koufax debuted with the Dodgers at a time when star power was enough to make the roster despite being a relatively unknown 19-year-old left-hander.
“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,” Koufax recalled. “But Jackie went out of his way to make me feel welcome, and I’ll never forget his kindness on that.”
Many around the sport, especially Clayton Kershaw, understand the kindness and humility Koufax represents. He is regarded as one of the best pitchers in MLB history, but used the statue ceremony to remember the Dodgers as a whole.
“The team was pretty special in 1955. To think that five guys on that team are now in the Hall of Fame, and one more should be,” Koufax said. “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’re not working hard and are making it easy, you’re not doing it right.’
“I believe that and I lived by that.”
Koufax listed off many of those who helped him in his incredible journey to the Dodgers and how he ultimately chose baseball over basketball when at the University of Cincinnati.
In 12 seasons with the Dodgers in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Koufax carried a career 2.76 ERA across 314 starts, 137 of which were complete games. He was a part of three World Series winnings teams, and when he retired, nobody had thrown more than Koufax’s no-hitter, one being a perfect game.
The statues of both Robinson and Koufax welcome Dodgers fans into the ballpark, something that the famed southpaw could have never imagined.
“It was 67 years ago Jackie Robinson became my teammate and friend,” he said. “At that time, sharing a space with him would have been absolutely unimaginable. Today, it still is. It’s one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Koufax thanks Dodgers owners, fans, teammates
In addition to reflecting fondly on his era of Dodgers baseball, Koufax waxed poetic about the Guggenheim ownership group.
“The O’Malley’s were great owners who did their best to make our lives as comfortable as possible. I think my only regret today is that so many are no longer with us and I am unable to let them know how much I thank them and how much I appreciated them, Koufax said.
“Thank you to all the fans who treated me so well, and tell them how lucky they are to have such a competitive team to root for for so many years.
“Andrew Friedman and his staff have done their best to provide players for Doc and the owners who made these team possible, the Walters, the Pattons, Todd Boehly, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, and of course, my other favorite No. 32, Magic Johnson.
“For all of you who came out, thank you. And for all my family and friends, thank you very much. I love you one and all. I’m done.”
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