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Koufax Shuts Out Dodgers

Hall of Fame pitcher, a Los Angeles sports icon, is severing ties to team because of gossip item about his biography in the New York Post, which is owned by Murdoch's News Corp.

February 21, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

Having enhanced his iconic status by walking away from baseball after winning 27 games at 30, Koufax has held a variety of minor league pitching positions with the Dodgers. He has been a fixture at spring training since his closest friend on the club, Dave Wallace, returned in 2000, tutoring pitchers during the exhibition season. Wallace, a senior vice president in baseball operations, also recently had dinner with the intensely private Koufax.

"The disappointment I feel can't be expressed enough, and I feel saddest for the players who will miss the benefit of learning from Sandy, who has so much to offer," he said. "To lose the knowledge of a guy of that stature ... I really don't want to say anything else about it."

Current and former players also supported Koufax while walking a fine line with their employer's parent company.

All-Star right fielder Shawn Green, who like Koufax is Jewish, has become friendly with Koufax since joining the Dodgers in 2000. In 2001, Green sat out the last game of a series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium in observance of Yom Kippur -- the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Koufax skipped his Game 1 start in the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins, also because of Yom Kippur.

"This is really a shame," Green said. "Sandy is a great man, and he did so much for the organization, but he meant so much more than just wearing the uniform.

"I've always paid close attention to him because he's a man of principle and he's lived his life the right way. He feels very strongly about his beliefs, which is only one of many reasons I admire him."

Said Chicago Cub first baseman Eric Karros, who developed a good relationship with Koufax during 11-plus seasons with the Dodgers: "Sandy is a living legend who brought a lot of credibility and tradition to the organization, so this is upsetting."

Daly, a former Warner Bros. studio boss, has experience assuaging the egos of movie stars, and he hopes to broker peace between Koufax and News Corp. However, the only solution may be to wait for News Corp. to move on.

"For Sandy to do something like this, he obviously feels strongly about it," Karros said. "And anyone who knows Sandy knows that his convictions are very strong."

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Staff writer Randy Harvey contributed to this report.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The Player

Sandy Koufax's accomplishments as a Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodger (1955-66)

*--* IP SO W-L ERA CAREER 2,324 1/3 2,396 165-87 2.76 WORLD SERIES 57 61 4-3 0.95 * Four no-hitters * Led NL in wins 1963, 65-66 * Led NL in ERA 1962-66 * Led NL in strikeouts 1961, 63, 65-66 * Cy Young winner in 1963, 65-66 * Most valuable player in 1963 * 382 strikeouts in 1965 (NL record) * Hall of Fame in 1972 FROM 1963-66, KOUFAX'S SEASON AVERAGES:

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*--* Wins Shutouts CG Strikeouts ERA 24 8 22 307 1.86

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