'One of a kind' Koufax immortalized with Dodger Stadium statue

June 18th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Hall of Famer  has played an enormous role in Dodgers history. It would be easy to argue that he’s the best pitcher to ever wear Dodger Blue. His No. 32 was one of the first retired by the organization, along with Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 and Roy Campanella’s No. 39. 

On Saturday, Koufax and his famous leg kick were forever immortalized at Dodger Stadium as he became the second player to get a statue in the center-field plaza. Koufax joined Robinson, who received the first statue in Dodger Stadium history back in 2015. 

“Now, 67 years ago, Jackie Robinson became my teammate and friend,” Koufax said Friday. “At that time, sharing this space with him would have been absolutely unimaginable. And today, it still is. It’s one of the greatest honors of my life.” 

Despite injuries ending his career prematurely, Koufax established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers of all time. The left-hander went 165-87 with a 2.76 ERA over his Hall of Fame career. He won three Cy Young Awards, one MVP and three World Series titles with the Dodgers.

Koufax’s four-year run from 1963-66 is one of the best ever. He won 25 or more games in three of the four seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each of those three seasons. In 1966, his final season, he went 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA and 27 complete games.

In the postseason, Koufax also shined, winning two World Series MVP Awards.

“I have to be careful how I word things because I say I hit against Sandy Koufax, but I have to take that back because I only faced Sandy Koufax,” said former Dodgers manager Joe Torre. “I like to say he’s one of a kind.”

Given everything he has meant to the Dodgers’ organization over decades, Koufax’s statue unveiling drew a big crowd. Manager Dave Roberts, third-base coach Dino Ebel, owner Mark Walter and countless others were present for Koufax’s moment. Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully wasn’t in attendance, but Koufax made sure to include during his speech that Scully “is the greatest of all time.”

Another integral part of the audience was Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. The similarities between Kershaw and Koufax are obvious. They’re both left-handed pitchers and both dominated their eras unlike any other pitcher. But off the field, Koufax and Kershaw have developed an even bigger friendship.

Koufax has served as a mentor for Kershaw. Even recently, Koufax shared some wisdom with Kershaw, who said he was struggling with his mechanics. On Saturday, Kershaw was one of the people selected to give a speech during Koufax’s ceremony.

“It really is such an honor for me to get to speak today,” Kershaw said. “Sandy, one day, I hope I can impact someone the way you have championed me. You really have, left-handed pitcher or not. Just in life.

“In the years and generations to come, I hope a kid sees this statue and asks 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.’ And for every rookie who sees this statue for the first time and asks, ‘Was he any good?’ I hope the veterans tell him simply that he was the best to ever do it.”

In typical Koufax fashion, he centered his speech by thanking everyone that helped him get to this moment. He thanked everyone from his first pitching coach to the equipment managers on his Dodgers teams. He especially showed appreciation for all of his Dodgers teammates from the late '50s and early '60s, especially Don Drysdale, who played 11 seasons with Koufax.

“I think we were friends, but I think in some ways we were competitors,” Koufax said. “Because the standard was set of excellence that I tried to live up to. I tried to set an excellence that he lived up to, and I think it made us both better.”

Over the course of his career, Koufax lived up to that excellence, and more. Since his retirement, Koufax has maintained that standard. Now, his legacy will be front and center every time fans visit Dodger Stadium.

“I think my only regret today is that so many are no longer with us, and I’m unable to let them know how much I thank them and how much I appreciated them,” Koufax said. “But thank you to all the fans who treated me so well, and tell them how lucky they are to have had competitive teams to root for, for so many years. … Thank you very much. I love you one and all.”