Letters

August 22, 1999

Lighten up. Koufax was a wonderful pitcher but a dull guy. I
prefer the lively Satchel Paige or Mark Fidrych.
--JACK SELZER, University Park, Pa.

THE LEGENDARY LEFTY

By the time I finished reading Tom Verducci's wonderful and wise
portrait of Sandy Koufax, my eyes were moist (The Left Arm of
God, July 12). I grew up in L.A. in the 1960s and was lucky
enough to see Koufax's perfect game. Though he had star quality,
he was different from other players. Even then, he was like a
phantom. Awesome, brilliant, then gone.
MITCHELL WILSON, Berkeley, Calif.

I was born in 1968, two years after Koufax retired. I didn't see
him pitch or understand how he dominated opposing hitters. He
was merely a legendary name. After reading your article, I
realize that not only does baseball today need more players like
Koufax, but also the world could use more human beings like him.
NELSON BAE, Los Angeles

Any boy in America who grew up in the 1960s playing baseball got
goose bumps when talking about or watching Sandy Koufax.
H.K. JOHNSON II, Newport, Tenn.

When I was a nine-year-old, Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game
and taught me that you can achieve the impossible. When I was
10, he verified what my family and religious school teachers
taught me by not pitching on Yom Kippur. His lessons endure.
STUART WEISS, Los Angeles

It appears that Verducci greatly misjudged the character of this
man. How can he proclaim that Koufax "always put team above
self" and then remind us how "he refused to pitch Game 1 of the
1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur?"
CRAIG LESLY, Ventura, Calif.

Before reading your profile of Koufax, I was not entirely sure
whether Mr. Koufax was alive or dead. After reading your profile,
I am still not sure.
BILL LEFFINGWELL, Silver Spring, Md.

As a fourth-grader in 1963 I was sent to the principal's office
when my teacher discovered I was secretly listening to the World
Series on a transistor radio through an earphone, the cord
concealed in the sleeve of my sweater. Your article on Koufax
vividly reminded me why, Goody Two-shoes that I was, I would
risk such punishment. By the way, I got to listen to the rest of
the game with the principal in his office.
NANCY TURNBULL, Brookline, Mass.

FOR PETE'S SAKE

Pete Sampras wins his 12th Grand Slam men's singles title by
winning his sixth Wimbledon, more than any man this century, and
you put Sandy Koufax on your July 12 cover? Who will make your
cover when Sampras wins his record-breaking 13th title? Ty Cobb?
ED DONEY, Edmond, Okla.

HOOPS DEJA VU

After reading Jack McCallum's piece on the high school phenom
turned pro basketball player Jonathan Bender, it occurred to me
that McCallum didn't have much work to do in writing the article
(Higher Education, July 12). How difficult can it be to change
the names and rearrange the paragraphs in what has become the
annual high-school-kid-gets-drafted-by-the-NBA-and-really-hopes-
he-makes-it story?
JASON BOCK, Oshkosh, Wis.

I have yet to understand why a 6'11", 210-pound high school
senior scoring 31 points in the McDonald's All-America game
makes him an NBA lottery pick. That game is like playing pickup
at your local YMCA: no defense, just run and gun. I wish Bender
the best, but when I look at him, I see another Korleone Young,
not another Kevin Garnett.
VICTOR PHILLIPS, Flint, Mich.

A COACH'S LESSON

As a former Buffalo Bills intern, I contacted Marv Levy when I
was recently found to have prostate cancer at age 41 (SCORECARD,
July 12). Levy's invaluable support guided me through this
difficult period. As a result of his inspiration, I have begun
counseling others who recently have been diagnosed with the
disease. Early detection is the winning game plan against
prostate cancer. In my playbook Marv Levy is the consummate Hall
of Famer in the game of life.
RONALD L. BARON, Dallas

TIP OF THE CAP TO HEXTALL

I would like to thank Kostya Kennedy for the acknowledgment of
the probable end to goaltender Ron Hextall's landmark career
(INSIDE THE NHL, July 12). Hextall changed the way goaltenders
approach the game, helping his defensemen by doing more than
just setting up the puck. Hextall was a fiery competitor on the
ice, and a gentleman off it. Flyers fans will miss him.
JOHN TIDD, Morrisville, Pa.

COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER

Fantasy Season

As great as Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA and Denny McLain's 31 wins
were in 1968, I will always wonder what kind of otherworldly
numbers Koufax would have amassed if he'd taken the mound that
pitcher-friendly year.
SAM LUDU, Levittown, N.Y.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)