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Hal Lifson Salutes Sandy Koufax

Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 – 2:29 PM

Earlier this month, baseball pitching legend Sandy Koufax made an appearance at the “Old Timer’s Game” at Dodger Stadium.

Sandy has become very visible in recent years at Dodger games and threw out an incredible first pitch in the All Star game last year to veteran catcher Johnny Bench.

Koufax, at nearly 80, floats a perfect strike across home plate with the gentle grace that reminds us of all the incredible accomplishments he had in his storied baseball career, cut short by an arthritic elbow.

Sandy retired 50 years ago this summer – announcing it at The Beverly Wilshire due to complications from arthritis in his left elbow – after three World Series’ victories, several no hitters, a perfect game, and a Cy Young Award.

Koufax was a true hero of the sport for sitting out on Yom Kippur 1965 when the Dodgers were in the World Series with the Minnesota Twins. Sandy had a long friendship with passionate Dodgers’ fan Frank Sinatra, and had dinner at La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills with Frank and his then girlfriend (and future wife) Mia Farrow that year. Sandy guest starred on TV shows like Dennis The Menace and was on variety shows his with fellow pitching star Don Drysdale.

I went to a Dodgers game and saw Don Drysdale pitch in 1965 with my dad and uncle Howard Orren, a long time Beverly Hills resident. We stopped for gas at the Union 76 station that looked like it was out of the Jetsons cartoon I was watching then.

We got a styrofoam orange 76 ball for the antenna which were ingenious promo items. Union Oil was a major Dodgers’ sponsor and there were 76 station at both Dodger Stadium and LAX, designed by the same architect who built the Beverly Hills 76 station–Gin Wong of William L. Pereira & Associates.

Sandy loved Beverly Hills nightlife, being a regular at The Luau, The Polo Lounge, and La Scala, which was his favorite Italian restaurant other than Little Joe’s near Chinatown.

As we honor Vin Scully for his amazing 70 year run as the Dodgers broadcaster this final season, I wanted to give a tip of the Dodger blue cap to #32 Sandy Koufax.

Those hurricane fastballs and killer curves will never be duplicated.

– Hal Lifson

 

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