Neat story in the New York Times yesterday about former Braves farmhand and minor league manager Buddy Bailey who has managed the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan league since 2002. Is it weird to be an American manager in a country whose government is so hostile to Americans? Nah, he just channels Norman Dale:
“At first it was like, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ ” said Mr.
Bailey, referring to the reaction of family and friends when he moved
to Venezuela in 2002. “But baseball is baseball,” he explained.
“Everywhere I go, the pitcher’s mound is at 60 feet 6 inches, and the
bases are 90 feet, so it’s the same everywhere.”
If you’re looking for a nice companion piece to this one on this cold, slow morning, check out this one from the other day about baseball (or softball) as tool-of-diplomacy in Nicaragua.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change. And I just want to say one thing to my kid, who should be home sleeping: Merry Christmas, kid, I love you.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.