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Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy by Jane Leavy
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Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy (2002)

by Jane Leavy

Other authors: Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich (Cover designer), Elias Haslanger (Designer)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy is a well-crafted biography of one of the most talented but least understood sports figures of the 20th century. Though handicapped by virtually no input from Koufax himself, Leavy, through extensive quotes and anecdotes from many of those around him over the years, still manages to shape a fairly vivid portrait of a very private man whose remarkable pitching prowess thrust him into baseball's spotlight.

The book's structure interweaves two threads, with chapters alternating between an inning-by-inning account of Koufax's 1965 perfect game pictched against the Chicago Cubs, and the chronicle of his life and ascendant baseball career. Leavy provides insight into the early struggles with his control, and the pain through which he pitched during the dominant final five years with the Dodgers. The author also explores the elements of Koufax's Jewish heritage: the occasional undercurrents of anti-Semitism; his decision to not pitch in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year; how he broke stereotypes; and how he eternally embodied the pride of the Jewish community.

Leavy has a good feel for the nuances of baseball and the rhythm of the game, and she exhibits flashes of lyrical prose. Sandy Koufax's elusiveness remains at the core of his mystique. The epilogue puts his career in perspective, and hints at his life after baseball. The final paragraph beautifully tied it all together: a poignant and satisfying conclusion. ( )
1 vote ghr4 | Jan 5, 2018 |
Better than your average player bio. But Koufax is more interesting than your average player. Definitely a bit too long on Koufax the Jewish hero, perhaps a bit too long on Koufax the Jew. And the book suffers from Koufax's failure to cooperate--lots of other people talking about Koufax, very little from Koufax himself. And Koufax was a figure that people seemingly had a great need for--they had roles he needed to play: that Jewish hero, that rebel, that humanitarian, that recluse, that intellectual, that square peg, whatever. Unfortunately Koufax lost a great opportunity here to put something a bit more solid and a bit less wishful at the center of all that. Leavy would have done him proud, I think. But maybe he's just as well people have their Koufaxes and he'll keep his to himself. ( )
1 vote ehines | May 11, 2013 |
In the years of Koufax's ascendancy, my family was still reeling from the Dodgers' desertion. So we ignored them as much as we could, which meant that apart from a vague impression of a super pitcher, I did not know much about Koufax until reading this book. An excellent account of his career and a valiant attempt to capture the essence of a complex man who tends still to be put into convenient boxes. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
It’s not easy being a baseball fan in New Mexico. The Triple-A Isotopes play in Albuquerque, but the nearest major leagues teams, the Rockies and Diamondbacks, are at least a six hour drive from my home. So I make do with DishTV and the occasional exceptional baseball book, like this biography by Jane Leavy.

Published in hardcover by HarperCollins. ( )
  mmtz | May 26, 2012 |
Group E1
  gilsbooks | May 20, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Leavyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cumptich, Roberto de Vicq deCover designersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haslanger, EliasDesignersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Another time,
I devised a left-hander
Even more gifted
Than Whitey Ford: a Dodger.
People were amazed by him.
Once, when he was young,
He refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.

-- from "The Night Game," by Robert Pinsky
Dedication
For Nick and Emma.
First words
I didn't go to the Library of Congress searching for Saandy Koufax.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060195339, Hardcover)

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: A Lefty's Legacy 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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: A Lefty's Legacy 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.… (more)

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