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Koufax & Torre was must-watch television

March 02, 2010|T.J. SIMERS

Koufax & Torre were brilliant, at times hilarious and at others insightful, both competitors reduced to misty eyes and an emotional embrace to end a memorable evening in Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

It's been a number of decades since Koufax has made such an appearance, his best explanation a tribute to his grandfather.

"For me, my grandfather was the most amazing man in my life," Koufax told a sold-out crowd of 7,000, as well as a live FS West TV audience. "My grandfather thought time was the most important asset you had.

"Don't waste your time, don't be frivolous with your time. As you get older, I've developed an attitude, spend your money foolishly and your time wisely. It's a lot easier to know what's in the bank than [the time] you have left."

The night was not without a major problem, though, the Moderator "just horrible" as Shaggy noted in a comment below The Times story on the event, and "awful" as Sailbyme added.

Robert Reinis probably put it best: "[The Moderator] bungled this beyond belief."

Before the event began, Michael Roth, co-producer of the show, predicted as much, telling an audience of VIPs who had just been treated to the magic of Billy Crystal, "there's no way" the Moderator of the show would be able to match Crystal.

What were the organizers thinking in allowing someone on stage with Koufax & Torre not nearly as funny as Crystal, someone bungling the whole thing beyond belief and not giving these men, who do not take themselves seriously, the rest they deserve?

Didn't anyone learn anything from Scully & Wooden?

Frank McCourt has an excuse. He missed that show as well. Mr. McCourt chooses not to speak to the Moderator, and so he certainly wasn't going to agree to listen to the Moderator, even if it meant not showing up for his manager and No. 1 living Dodgers icon. He is, after all, a man of principle.

Of course, this left all the applause for Angels owner Arte Moreno and former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley -- someone, and for all we know the Moderator, yelling out, "Buy back the team."

In retrospect, the show got off to a slow start, Koufax not speaking like this for decades and taking it one word at a time. Fortunately, the daughter-researcher saved the Moderator with timely suggestions, just as organizers were placing a call to Jim Hill.

Oddly enough, no one requested a refund at night's end, which really goes to show you how good Koufax & Torre were and how much folks wanted to contribute to Safe At Home.

Someone named Sue, who stayed home rather than contribute to the cause, turned off the TV after 20 minutes.

"The arrogant way [the Moderator] interviewed these two baseball legends was uncomfortable," she wrote. "I felt it, and so did the audience."

As spokeswoman for the audience, in which she did not join, Sue added, "These two men did not have to participate in this, nor did they have to bring awareness to their respective charities. They did this because they could and they love the sport of baseball."

For the record, they did this because they really had no choice -- Scully, Wooden, Koufax and Torre suckers when it comes to helping raise money for children, the quartet combining now to bring in around $1.5 million.

They accepted the assignment knowing it was not going to be a love fest, each wanting to give as good as they were going to get -- Wooden maybe the best -- none of them having any interest in just sitting there to be admired like some saint.

"What bugs you?" the Moderator wanted to know, Koufax's eyes lighting up. "Sportswriters like you."

Torre has been there and done that from day one, the genuine hope from the start of this project that this would make him more L.A. than New York as folks got the chance to know him better.

Koufax, meanwhile, could not have been more impressive, sitting down for a two-hour breakfast days earlier and demanding the Moderator bring it on. "I want to clear some things up," he said.

Had he been interested in talking about the seventh game against Minnesota, demolishing the Yankees or the no-hitters, he would have done so by now.

Had he been interested in sitting before an audience for a traditional interview, he could have done so every night of the week for the last four decades.

Given the chance, he told the Nokia Theatre audience he hasn't cleared the air on Marichal/Roseboro the last 45 years, and he wasn't going to do so now.

But he did speak of his affection for Jackie Robinson, how he wasn't accepted in the clubhouse initially, and later how he prayed for rain every Friday night so he wouldn't have to broadcast the Saturday Game of the Week.

When asked about being known as, "the playboy bachelor," he said, "I don't know about that, but I had a good time."

Maybe he's always been more human than superstar, so many in the audience wanting him to help them relive their childhoods, but the value he places on friendship meaning more to him. That's why he was here for Torre.

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