brewers baseball and things

Sandy Koufax and his little secret

14 Comments

1965_World_Series_Program_MagnifiedGame 1 of the 1965 World Series fell on the Jewish Day of Atonement-Yom Kippur. Sandy Koufax was scheduled to pitch. No surprise there. “The left arm of god” dominated the national league from 1961-1966 and then committed pitcher’s suicide; retiring at 30 years young. He wasn’t interested in receiving cortisone shots for the rest of his life.

And he wasn’t interested in pitching on Yom Kippur either making him an even bigger hero in the Jewish Community. Don Drysdale pitched instead and gave up 7 runs-2 earned. The Dodgers lost 8-2. Reporters joked with Dodgers Manager Walter Alston; “I bet you wish Drysdale was Jewish too.”

1965-game-7-ws-240

1965 game 7

Koufax did pitch game 5 and then game 7 on just three days rest and in both games, he tossed complete game shutouts. In total, he threw 18 innings, allowed a measly 7 hits, 4 walks while striking out 20. The Dodgers won the World Series. Koufax won the Series MVP. Everyone knows all that, but where in the hell was Koufax on October 6, 1965 while his team played game 1 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota?

Did he stow away in a St. Paul, Minnesota Hotel as most “expert” biographers argue with sobering certainty? Or was he dovening in a synagogue as many thousands of Minnesota Jews passionately claim?

Chaim Pinkowitz is one of those Jews despite not being born until 1975 and never setting foot in Minnesota. Chaim is the son of Abe Pinkowitz and together they bought “Flowers For Esther.”

Chaim enjoys Koufax conspiracy theories. No two are ever the same, but every time his mouth opens, Esther his mother says “more of your big machar storytelling. You’re just like your father. G-d help us all.”

The actual place Koufax may or may not have gone to pray is Temple of Aaron in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s the same synagogue where Bob Dylan’s mother-Beatty Zimmerman went to pray. The Rabbi at the time, Rabbi Raskas passed away and so did the ritual director, but some of the members are still alive and swear Koufax attended the afternoon service on October 6, 1965.

Koufax has never hinted one way or the other, but Chaim sure does. He swears he met Koufax along Avenue J in the Midwood section of Brooklyn many years after Koufax retired. Chaim grew up in Midwood.

“I walked up to him not knowing it was The left hand of God,” Chaim explains. “He was staring up at a monk parrot’s nest wedged under a street light. One of those light poles with a top looking like a Vietnamese hat. He had a meshuga look on his face; bewildered, dumbfounded, way down river, amazed. I went over to tell him the bottom line tachlis about there really being monk parrots in Brooklyn.”

At this point in the story, Esther pokes her head in the room because it’s true, monk parrots are everywhere in Brooklyn, but the minute Chaim starts up his megillah making, Esther ducks back into the kitchen and finds some dough to knead.

“Koufax had never seen a monk parrot before,” Chaim continues. “Or at least not on Avenue J or anywhere else in Brooklyn. It’s no wonder extra terrestrial spaceships are not believed. No one looks up. Anyway, at this point, I knew it was Koufax and it’s true what they say about moments being surreal. It was sure and it was real and I never hesitated.”

“I popped the October 6, 1965 question . Koufax lost that look of meshugah and just smiled and wished me lots of mazzal.”

   

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

14 thoughts on “Sandy Koufax and his little secret

  1. “I popped the October 6, 1965 question. Koufax lost that look of meshugah and just smiled and wished me lots of mazzal.”

    You, Steve, are quite a writer, very entertaining and quirky.

    Is that true, though, that Bob Zimmerman’s mother had to go (whether by train or car or whatever) about 150 miles from Duluth to St. Paul to a shul??? I find it hard to believe that Duluth, one of Minnesota’s bigger cities, didn’t have enough Jews to support a shul.

    It’s interesting that you mentioned Avenue J. I almost moved to Avenue K near Nostrand Avenue recently, but it fell through. I hate being stuck in Queens. I would have been right near Brooklyn College (where my father graduated from) too, and I might have started work on finally finishing working on getting my Bachelor’s Degree. So that hit home for me.

    Now, my mother came from a small town twenty miles northwest of Pittsburgh, so, as she mentioned, their congregation (when they finally got one) met above a shoe store in a town full of huge and beautiful churches. (See http://stickballhero79.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/a-jewish-childs-christmas/ ) There weren’t many Jews in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, although Coach Moe Rubinstein, the football coach, could have run for mayor and won; he was the most popular man in town because of my mother’s town’s obsession with football. The football stadium in Ambridge, Pennsylvania is named after Coach Rubinstein.

    But DULUTH???

    Maybe his mother just went down to worship in St. Paul just on the High Holidays, but I highly doubt that Duluth didn’t have at least a hole in the wall to worship in (like in my mother’s small town).

    Anyway, moving on. There are varying stories about the quote about “wishing that Drysdale was Jewish”. The one that I was familiar with was Drysdale saying it to Alston as he handed the ball to him after his lousy world series outing. “I bet you wish that I was Jewish today, Walt!” But I did a little research (and didn’t even have to go to the public library to do so; now imagine that. Right here on this crazy new toy called the internet), and I read in some places that a reporter asked it to Alston, and even another source that LEFTY GOMEZ said it to Alston. Really???? What would Lefty Gomez be doing in the Dodgers dugout?

    Who knows.

    Also, maybe Koufax was actually dovening in his St. Paul hotel. He was and is kind of a quiet loner, isn’t he??? Maybe he didn’t want to run into a lot of autograph seekers on the High Holidays, so he did his Dovening alone in his hotel room. Maybe he owned a prayer book, or he knew the prayers by heart. So maybe both the people who say that he observed Yom Kippur AND the ones that say he was holed up in a St. Paul hotel were right.

    Who knows?????

    Anyway, very imaginative, as usual, and entertaining to read, Steve.

    Glen

  2. Great, but it needs more Stubby Kaye.

    • W.K., your wish is fulfilled.

      Heeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrsssss STUBBY!

      Glen

    • Glen is a formidable relay man with bulls eye throws to home.

      • Actually, Steve, my throwing arm in baseball is horrible! I field and hit okay, but throwing or pitching has never been my forte, as my throwing skills are erratic, to put it mildly!

        Glen

      • Screw it. I don’t care. I’ll still throw you the ball Glen. Do what you want with it. Throw it in the seats and hit a peanut vendor in the head. I’ll keep throwing you the ball all season long. It’s better than throwing it to Derek Jeter…that pretty boy bitch.

  3. I’m reminded of Koufax’ exploits every time I enter a Jewish deli in the greater Los Angeles area.

    • Not that long ago, I asked a man down here in Greenville, SC about religious diversity in our local area. He informed me that they have BOTH Baptists AND Methodists in our area, so yeah, in his opinion, there was a reasonable amount of diversity.

      • What the hell. It’s all relative. I ask the spiders in my apartment the same question and they go on and on about diversity. Bastards just like rubbing it in how insects outnumber us humans.

      • I tell my kids that spiders are our friends, even if they would exterminate us if they were 40 times larger.

    • Hopple Popple and fried Kreplach is a cheap two hitter, but in Los Angeles, I imagine it must hyped and over priced?

  4. The jewish neighborhoods are pretty low key…L.A. has a reputation of being “hyped and overpriced” (which it is) but there is also a level of sophistication here that seems to fly under the radar. For every Beverly Hills, Hollywood or any other tourist trap, there are hand-fulls of working class neighborhoods that burst at the seams with culture and amazing history. I’m glad that we are a melting pot….and Sandy Koufax legacy will always represent that to me.

    • I don’t understand all the hype about cities. Cities are disgusting to me and that’s exactly why I prefer them over the country. Give me a rusted grain silo and a 99 cent burger and pollution and bad grammar and cheap rent and over flowing garbage cans and a baseball team and lots of strange languages and i’ll live there and be just as miserable as I would be in any other “famous” city. A river helps too.

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