10/3/13 - sandy koufax, self-pity, and finger pointing

In today's encore selection -- from Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy.  Sandy Koufax is the quietly determined former Los Angeles Dodger pitcher thought by many to have been the best in baseball history. His career spanned from 1955 to 1966, and at the end of his career he had grown into a leader nonpareil, quietly imparting to teammates the values that separate the good from the great. Here he is in 1965, counseling Dodger rookie Jim Lefebvre regarding self-pity and finger-pointing:

"Jim Lefebvre, the ex-Dodger batboy, who hadn't expected to be play­ing in the majors this soon, was preparing to start his 136th game at sec­ond base. In the home opener, he faced Warren Spahn, the old lefty who was beginning his twenty-first and last major league season. Lefebvre had a lot of family in the stands. He figured he'd show the old man a thing or two. Three strikeouts and one fly ball later, he was back in the locker room, hanging his head, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

Sandy Koufax

 " 'Kid,' Koufax said, 'if you can't take it, get out of here. We don't want people in here that feel sorry for themselves. You've earned the right to wear this uniform. You busted your rear end. You're a Dodger. Dodgers don't hang their heads. They don't feel sorry for themselves and they don't point fingers.' That was the day Lefebvre said he truly became a Dodger, the day the rookie grew up.
"The public didn't see the Koufax his teammates knew, the clubhouse leader who nurtured rookies and scrubs, honing them into veterans so they would be strong up the middle when he needed them to be. ...
"In a world of tummlers and self-promoters, he was modest, shy, polite, wholesome even, prefer­ring shadows to limelight."


Jane Leavy


Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy


HarperCollins Publishers


Copyright 2002 by Jane Leavy


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