Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy

Book Reviews | Feb 16th, 2007

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Author: Jane Leavy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Biography/Sports
Pages: 288
Retail Price: 0.00
Buy on Amazon.com link

Writing a thorough biography is never easy when your subject is an uncooperative recluse, but Jane Leavy does a superb job nonetheless. Speaking with hundreds of friends and former teammates, she is able to weave a beautiful tapestry of one man’s unforgettable career.

Each chapter, cleverly alternating with a play-by-play account of his perfect game, paints a wonderfully realistic portrait of Koufax’s ascent from wild southpaw to one of baseball’s greatest control pitchers. The tale of this reluctant hero is set against the times in which he played, and this book is as much a history of baseball during the 50s and the tumultuous 60s as it is about Koufax’s accomplishments.

More so, Leavy succeeds at explaining this personality, this cult icon who has been a mystery to sportswriters and fans (and even his friends and teammates!) for over 50 years. While she respects his privacy and doesn’t venture anywhere near his personal life (practically nothing is written about his marriages or family, and the longtime rumors surrounding his sexual orientation is respectfully never brought up), after reading this book, you get the strong sense that you understand him better. Or at least, you can appreciate better the pain he went through, both emotionally as an outsider in a very public arena who longed for normalcy when expected to be a legend, and physically as he forced his body to the uttermost limits.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope for more juicy tidbits. Maybe it’s our tabloid/Hollywood Access culture, or our inexplicable sense of entitlement, but deep down we want to learn every little personal detail of our celebrities. Leavy, in a rare act of decency and self-restraint largely unknown to journalists, doesn’t bow to our greedy desires and offers up only a classy, professional tribute to one of our classiest, most professional figures. For that reason, her book will feel incomplete to many, but for real fans of Sandy, a biography that preserves his mystery is the most honorable biography that he deserves.

Bottom Line: A respectful bio on one of my heroes.
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