Sandy Koufax, who joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as a player in 1955, was in awe to have been on the same team that Jackie Robinson.
The entrance to Dodger Stadium now has bronze tributes to the pair, which was created 67 years ago.
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,”Koufax, 86 years old, 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. It is possible that the Dodgers were more appropriate to wait until this year.
Koufax, Roy Campanella and Robinson were the first Dodgers to see their numbers retired 50 years ago. This is also the golden anniversary of Koufax becoming the youngest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax was two-time World Series MVP for the Dodgers. In his 12-year career in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Koufax won three Cy Young Awards and threw four no-hitters.
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 shows Koufax as determined and calm in his windup.
Koufax was the one who chose the statue’s inspiration photo. They also took a photo of him holding a baseball to capture this perfectly.
“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.”
During the ceremony, Joe Torre, a former Dodgers manager, spoke. Clayton Kershaw was also present.
“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 spoke.
“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.