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Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy [Kindle Edition]

Jane Leavy
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Produktbeschreibungen

From Publishers Weekly

Sportswriter Leavy describes her book as not so much a biography of a ballplayer as a social history of baseball, with the former star pitcher's career as the barometer of change. While both a preface and an introduction spin Leavy's storytelling wheels, a compelling, literary social history does indeed get rolling. Koufax refused to participate in the project, so Leavy has spoken to hundreds of people with something to share on the former Brooklyn/L.A. Dodger Hank Aaron, Joe Torre, childhood friend and Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon and even the old Dodgers equipment manager among them and their testimonies make for a rich baseball pastiche and an engaging look at the game's more innocent period. Koufax capped off his first year by watching the 1955 World Series against the hated Yankees from the bench, and following the Dodgers' historic victory headed from Yankee Stadium to class at Columbia University, where he studied architecture (in case the baseball thing didn't work out). Even when Leavy's historical anecdotes are quaint, they prove timely: she details Koufax holding out for a better contract with fellow star pitcher Don Drysdale in '66, paving the way for free agency. While Leavy's interest in Koufax's Jewish heritage at times seems to border on the obsessive, she delivers an honest and exquisitely detailed examination of a complex man, one whose skills were such that slugger Willie Stargell once likened hitting against Koufax to "trying to drink coffee with a fork."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Sandy Koufax had the five greatest consecutive seasons of any pitcher in major-league history. From 1962 through 1966 he lead the National League in earned-run average every year and won at least 25 games three times. In 1966, an arthritic pitching arm caused his retirement. Except for a brief stint as a broadcaster, Koufax shunned the spotlight after he stopped playing. Leavy, an award-winning former Washington Post sports journalist, brings us up to date on the "lefty's legacy," interviewing hundreds of Koufax's former teammates, opponents, friends, and family members. Their respect for the man is remarkable. The words most often associated with him are "gentle" and "integrity." This is a book about Koufax, but Levy also uses his career to examine the changes baseball has undergone in the last four decades, noting that when Koufax and teammate Don Drysdale refused to work without better pay, they sowed the seeds for future collective bargaining. Koufax was a hero to a generation on the basis of his pitching accomplishments. This biography will earn him further respect for a life well lived. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Von Donald Mitchell TOP 500 REZENSENT
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy is by far the best book about Mr. Koufax that I have read. My rating reflects that. Nevertheless, the book will be most meaningful to those who are interested on Mr. Koufax's effect on his fellow players and fans. A successful biography requires a sense of the subject's inner life, and Mr. Koufax's steadfast quietness about his thoughts makes that impossible. What's new in this book are a large number of interviews with those who played with and know Mr. Koufax. These interviews help fill in his legacy for us all.

The book has an unusual format and focus that you will either love or hate. The continuing story line is Mr. Koufax's perfect game on September 9, 1965 against the Chicago Cubs. The game is related in 10 chapters that alternate with the biographical/sociological material that forms the rest of the book. The end leafs of the book also portray a scorecard from that game. The first chapter of this material is called "The Pregame Show" and sets the stage. Every other chapter covers an inning. It's nicely done, including little known facts like how a little of the game ended up being recorded for posterity. However, no one would buy a book just to read the details of this game.

So the book's appeal rests on its biography of Mr. Koufax, and the related material on how his life affected others. The beginning of the book stresses the biographical, because he was more visible then to those who knew him than after he became the Dodger superstar. I found that that material was fresh and interesting, and added meaningfully to my understanding of his formative influences and early life style. As his fame rose, Mr. Koufax became less visible as a person and his sociological impact increased.
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68 von 73 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen September 9, 1965. Where were you? 23. September 2002
Von Mr. Joe - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
"On the mound tonight for the Los Angeles Dodgers ... number 32 ... the great left-hander... Sandy Koufax".

These were the energizing words coming over the airwaves that I lived for as a teenager in the mid-60s. I was a Dodger fan. More specifically, a Sandy Koufax fan. I never saw him pitch, but rather relied on the Voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully, to paint in my mind's eye the picture of my hero at work. So, on September 9, 1965, it was after "lights out" at a private boarding school north of Los Angeles, and I was under the covers with my transistor radio surreptitiously glued to the final inning of Sandy's perfect game against the Chicago Cubs.

Consciously or not, former sportswriter Jane Leavy has constructed SANDY KOUFAX: A LEFTY'S LEGACY much the same as Ed Gruver's year 2000 book, Koufax. In each, the author alternates multiple chapters about Sandy's upbringing, professional career, and post-retirement with chapters that are a batter by batter account of Sandy's greatest diamond triumphs - at one inning per chapter. In Gruver's story, it was the last game of the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins when Koufax pitched with only two days rest, and clinched the Fall Classic with grit and a fastball. In Leavy's, it's the Perfect Game pitched against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium, when Sandy's performance touched the truly sublime.

Based on a wealth of interviews with her subject's friends and former fellow players, Leavy's book provides much more information about Sandy's life and meteoric career than does Gruver's. His Jewishness, the affinity he had with Black players because of it, the racism other players felt towards him during his early years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and his decision not to pitch the opening game of the '65 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. His perception of the pure science of pitching, and how he got the rules of physics to work to his advantage. The hard feelings Koufax still harbors against Walter Alston for mismanaging his early career. The disaster that was baseball's system of signing "bonus babies". The assault Koufax and Don Drysdale made on the Reserve Clause of the Uniform Players Contract with their famous salary hold-out before the 1966 season. Indeed, while Leavy's chapters on the Perfect Game are models of coherence, sometimes she gets into trouble in the intervening segments with non-sequiturs that left me thinking, "Uh, come again", and which imparted a certain choppiness to the narrative, as if she had failed to stitch all her information together properly. Examples:

"Koufax, a bachelor, was Doggett's guest on the postgame show every time he pitched and a collector of countless new electrical appliances." OK. So?

On Tommy Lasorda's recollections of his relationship with Koufax: "Once he got going on the subject, Lasorda didn't stop, failing to notice that one of the people to whom he was speaking had doubled over in acute pain with stomach cramps." Who was that and why is it relevant? The author doesn't say.

"The day pitchers and catchers reported (to spring training) was still an occasion observed by tomboys who wore their Mary Janes to school in celebration." Huh? Must be an inside joke.

Beyond these infrequent stumbles, Leavy has crafted a book that will surely delight and absorb anyone wishing to revel in the career of Dandy Sandy. A very nice touch in the chapter about the Perfect Game's 9th inning is a verbatim transcription of Vin Scully's radio play-by-play of the action. I can hear it as if it was only yesterday.

It should be noted that if one is looking for dirt, there isn't any outside of a passing observation indicating Koufax is capable of telling off-color jokes, and evidence that Sandy would occasionally sneak into the players' dorm after curfew during spring training. The adulation is slavish. Perhaps purists will say that this prevents SANDY KOUFAX from being a balanced and great book. On the other hand, in this era of tell-all journalism, maybe it's better not to know the blemishes. Why sully the rare heroes left to us? As Cubs great Ernie Banks thought while watching number 32 walk out to the mound: "It's like being in the ballpark with Jesus."

Yeah, but JC didn't have a 100 mph fastball and a curve that dropped as if off the edge of a table.
32 von 35 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Brilliant and insightful look at a very enigmatic man. 24. September 2002
Von David J. Gannon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Sandy Koufax was a shooting star. A brilliant, explosive wonder, he appeared on the baseball scene of the mid-60's virtually without warning, dominated the game as no lefty ever had and, after a short, extraordinary brilliance, was gone in an instant, leaving behind a grateful, awed and largely befuddled multitude.
Koufax is an extremely private man. He had no role in the preparation of this book. However, Jane Leavy appears to have interviewed virtually everyone who ever knew or worked with Koufax to any significant degree and, through painstaking research has penned the definitive-though totally derivative-biography of Koufax we are likely to ever see.
Unfortunately-and this is no criticism of Leavy, just a reflection of the enigma that is Sandy Koufax-in the end the only truly salient fact that emerges is that Koufax remains as much a mystery today as he was in his prime. Leavey may have conducted over 400 interviews and provided an avalanche of detail, background and speculation but the fact is that Koufax himself remains unavailable, unassailable and, in the final analysis, apparently unknowable. One of his former teammates once observed that "Sandy Koufax is the most misunderstood man in all of baseball". Leavy has, through this entertaining and valiant effort, established that fact to be as true today as it was 35 years ago.
15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Superb story of a unique athlete and man 24. November 2002
Von Robert Ehrlich - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I was a fan of Koufax when he played, but more of a fan of him as a unique human being. Ms. Leavy tells the story of a great pitcher by using the perfect game he pitched in 1965 as the illustration of a great pitcher's skills. However alternating chapters told the story of his rise to greatness both on pitching skill level and on a human scale.
Koufax was a great pitcher but more important a great person. The most revealing fact is that Sandy was not aloof, distant and enigmatic as portrayed by other wrriters. He just eschewed publicly airing his life. He was a great friend, a fair and decent person, and not one to make baseball his whole life.
Ms. Leavy's book is a great read, in fact I could not put it down. I resisted reading it, seeing it as another baseball book, but it was captivating. Sandy Koufax was unique among pitchers but also unique among famous athletes; humble, caring, considerate of fans. I read Gruber's earlier work and this one is much better.
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen You'll never read a better Koufax bio 4. November 2002
Von Gary Delsohn - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Sandy Koufax was my first athlete hero and I have waited a long time for a definitive bio of him. This is as much of an appreciation of the former Dodger great as it is revealing biography, but it's a wonderful book that I recommend highly. There is a great deal of insight into Koufax and what made him such a pitching marvel. Without saying so directy, we see how even Dodger management didn't know what to make of his being Jewish and I conclude from reading this book that Walt Alston and the Dodgers didn't deserve Koufax. .... Sandy was a tough, competitive as hell pitching God who simply was a nice guy and valued his privacy and ordinariness as much as his career, if not more. He really was and is a class guy who stands out among our star ball players almost as much for that characteristic -- and I say almost -- a he did for his awesome abilities. Organizing the book around his perfect game aganst the Cubs was a masterstroke and if you're a baseball fan and would like to read about an athlete who was also a truly good guy, you'll love this book. The writer did an excellent job with a very difficult subject. Along with Hank Greenberg, Sandy is the Jewish Jackie Robinson and you'll enjoy reading this as much for social commentary as you will for the baseball it captures.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Time When The Owners Held All The Cards 27. November 2002
Von Bill Emblom - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I saw Sandy Koufax pitch once during his career. It was on August 8, 1964, in Milwaukee against the Braves. My memory of that game is Sandy Koufax diving back into second base on a pickoff attempt. When he reached third base, he was twirling his left arm around. Shortly thereafter he received the diagnosis of arthritis in his left elbow. Koufax was built with huge muscles in his back and arms and this very build made it possible for him to throw as well as he did, but it also meant he was due to break down earlier. Sports medicine was still in the future and pitchers pitched until they were worn out and then the owners got somebody else. Pitchers were disposable and since players weren't paid very much no attempt was made to protect them. Sandy had a contentious relationship with manager Walter Alston who, for whatever reason, wouldn't pitch Koufax early in his career even in years the Dodgers weren't involved in any pennant race. Pitchers weren't placed on pitch counts during the 1960's and there were seasons when Koufax logged over 300 innings and pitchers pitched every fourth day. Can you imagine pitching a complete game during spring training? Where was the common sense of managers during this time? Think about this for a minute. The total Dodger payroll for the fifteen years Buzzie Bavasi was general manager equals Kevin Brown's $15 million annual salary. When Koufax pitched his perfect game against the Cubs, Dodger Owner Walter O'Malley let the moths fly out of his wallet and gave Sandy a $500 raise. Prior to the start of the 7th game of the 1965 World Series against the Twins the Dodgers had a meeting in which Manager Walter Alston announced to the team who would start the game on the mound. Dick Tracewski remembers Alston saying, "We're going to start the left-hander. After that we have Drysdale and Perranoski in the bullpen." Tracewski noted that Sandy felt he should have called him by name instead of simply referring to him as "the left-hander." I agree. It appears that Alston wanted to maintain that distant relationship he had with Sandy. Many people consider Koufax somewhat of a recluse, but he shows up at Dodger fantasy camps, Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and funerals of former teammates such as Joe Black and Pee Wee Reese. A prize possession of Cubs' pitcher Bob Hendley, who was Sandy's pitching opponent in the perfect game and who gave up only one hit himself and lost 1-0, is a baseball signed by Koufax with the simple inscription, "What a game." The book is really two stories alternating between the innings of the perfect game and Sandy's career. If you're a sports fan, this book should have a permanent place in your bookcase.
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