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Dodgers and Sandy Koufax team up again after years apart

Koufax, in a powerfully symbolic move by the team, will work with pitchers and consult as special advisor to Chairman Mark Walter. The Hall of Fame member, 77, says he is 'delighted to be back.'

January 22, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Sandy Koufax will be a special advisor to Chairman Mark Walter.
Sandy Koufax will be a special advisor to Chairman Mark Walter. (Getty Images )

For the first time in more than two decades, Sandy Koufax is officially a Dodger.

The Dodgers made one of their most symbolically powerful moves in what has already been an eventful off-season, announcing on Tuesday that Koufax will be a special advisor to Chairman Mark Walter. The Hall of Fame member will attend a portion of spring training to work with pitchers and consult with the team throughout the year.

Koufax last had a formal role with the Dodgers in 1989, the final of his 11 seasons as the organization's minor league pitching instructor.

"I'm delighted to be back with the Dodgers," Koufax said in a statement released by the team. "I'm looking forward to spending time with the team during spring training and to contributing in any way I can to help make the team a success for the fans of Los Angeles. Some of my most cherished memories came at Dodger Stadium."

Koufax, 77, is arguably the greatest pitcher in franchise history, if not baseball history. A part of four World Series championship teams, he was the National League's most valuable player in 1963 and won three Cy Young Awards. He pitched four no-hitters, including a perfect game in 1965.

"He's as iconic a player as we'll ever have," General Manager Ned Colletti said.

Koufax's relationship with the Dodgers became strained when the team was owned by Fox. The New York Post, which was also under the News Corp. umbrella, intimated in 2002 that the notoriously private Koufax was gay. The Post retracted the item and apologized to Koufax, but he still severed ties with the Dodgers.

After the Dodgers were sold to Frank McCourt, Koufax started visiting the Dodgers in spring training again to work with pitchers, though not in an official capacity. He threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium on opening day of 2008.

Clayton Kershaw is among the pitchers who have received tips from Koufax. Kershaw sat with Koufax on a plane ride from Los Angeles to Phoenix in 2010 and said at the time, "It was pretty awesome. To sit there and talk to him for an hour was unbelievable. I learned more on that one plane trip than I have in a long time."

Co-owner Magic Johnson reached out to Koufax after Guggenheim Baseball's purchase of the Dodgers last spring, according to executive vice president Lon Rosen. Koufax met with Rosen and President Stan Kasten at a game at Dodger Stadium last season.

"He wants to be a resource to us," Rosen said of Koufax.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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