Saturday, February 27, 2010
Updated: February 28, 3:27 AM ET
Joe Torre, Sandy Koufax chat
LOS ANGELES -- The story line was a simple one: two guys from Brooklyn talking baseball.
Joe Torre invited Sandy Koufax to visit with him and talk about their lives playing a game as a way to raise money for his Safe At Home Foundation to combat domestic abuse.
But the Dodgers manager didn't think the reclusive Koufax would come.
"Sandy's not comfortable with this stuff," Torre told his wife, Ali.
Only Koufax did show up.
"It gave me goosebumps," Torre said of the sold-out crowd of 7,100 at Nokia Theater, which included the likes of Ron Howard, Billy Crystal, Penny Marshall and Jon Lovitz and raised more than $750,000.
"Where'd you go," sportswriter T.J. Simers asked the 74-year-old Hall of Famer Koufax, who retired from the game at the age of 30 and was returning for one of his rare public appearances.
"I went home," Koufax said, later explaining that it was something his grandfather taught him that has kept him out of the limelight.
"Your most precious asset is time," Koufax said. "Spend your money foolishly, spend your time wisely."
And the reason he came back?
"Joe Torre," Koufax said.
"It's about friendship, a very special friendship," said Torre, 69, of Koufax, even though the two were never teammates.
Both talked of the moments that made them. For Koufax, who had a 36-41 record as an occasional starter until 1961, it was Gil Hodges telling him he'd have to go eight innings after two pitchers missed the plane for a B-team spring training game.
Koufax decided to ease up on what had been an uncontrollable fastball to be sure he made it the eight innings, which he did, without allowing a hit.
"A lightbulb went on," said Koufax, who would go on to pitch four no-hitters in his Dodgers career.
Torre, a former National League MVP almost certain to be named to the Hall of Fame for his managing career, spoke of how it all turned around for him at the age of 55 with the 1996 Yankees after he'd been fired by Atlanta, the New York Mets and St. Louis.
He'd been the No. 4 man on a list that saw Tony La Russa, Davey Johnson and Sparky Anderson all say no.
"I knew I was going to find out if I could manage," Torre said.