When Sandy Koufax joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, he was in awe of being on the same team with Jackie Robinson.
Now 67 years later, the two are immortalized in bronze at the entrance to Dodger Stadium.
Koufax’s statue was unveiled on Saturday in the Centerfield Plaza before the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Cleveland Guardians. It is the second sculpture the Dodgers have commissioned after Robinson’s in 2017.
“At that time sharing this space with him would have been absolutely unimaginable. And today, it’s still one of the greatest honors of my life,” the 86-year-old Koufax said.
Koufax’s statue was announced in 2019 and was originally slated to be unveiled the following year, until the coronavirus pandemic put those plans on hold. The Dodgers waited until this year, which might have been more fitting.
It has been 50 years since Koufax was one of the first Dodgers to have his number retired, along with Robinson and Roy Campanella. It is also the golden anniversary of Koufax being the youngest player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax was a two-time World Series MVP with the Dodgers. The lefty won three Cy Young Awards, threw four no-hitters, and was 165-87 in a 12-year career with Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
The 19.5-ton statue was sculpted by Branly Cadet, who also did Robinson’s. The sculpture captures Koufax’s signature leg kick as he prepares to throw. It also shows Koufax determined and a picture of calm as he is in his windup.
Koufax picked the inspiration image for the statue. He also gripped a baseball and they took a picture of his left hand to perfectly capture that as well.
“I think for me more than anything I wanted to capture his strength, his focus and integrity,” Cadet said. “Although he’s a very quiet and absolute gentleman, there’s a part of him that’s just a fierce competitor.”
Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who faced Koufax during his playing career, and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw also spoke during the ceremony.
“I hope a kid sees the statue and asked his mom or dad about Sandy Koufax and I hope that they tell him he was a great pitcher. But more than that he was a great man who represented the Dodgers with humility, kindness, passion and class,” Kershaw said.
“And for every rookie who sees it for the first time and asks if he was any good. I hope the veterans tell him simply that he was the best ever do it,” he said.
Reporting by the Associated Press.
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