Game 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.”
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.”