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Category: Sandy Koufax

Joe Torre pleased after returning from event with Sandy Koufax

Sandy For Joe Torre it was great being there, great coming back and great knowing the evening had raised more than $700,00 for his Safe at Home charity.

If not completely sure what to expect when Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers hosted Sandy Koufax and Torre for almost 90 minutes Saturday at the Nokia Theatre, by the time Torre was back at the Dodgers spring training facility, he was at complete peace with the evening.

"It was great," Torre said. "I was just concerned about Sandy, but Sandy had a good time. He had a real good time.’’

Koufax and left-hander Clayton Kershaw flew back after the show with Torre on a private plane, landing in Phoenix around 1 a.m.

"Going back on the plane last night it did my heart some good, because those two guys just talked the whole way back,’’ Torre said.

"Talked about pitching and competing. It was great to sit around and watch and listen to it.’’

Torre and Clayton were back in camp Sunday morning, though rain forced the workout indoors. Torre said Koufax would remain in Phoenix about a week, and at some point be at camp.

Kershaw had joined Torre because Simers wanted to bring him out of the crowd during the show.

"In the middle of the show they had a picture of Sandy when he appeared in 'Dennis the Menace’ sort of helping some little kid throw a baseball,’’ Torre said. "So T.J. says, 'Here’s a young man. Why don’t you come up here?’ It’s Clayton. Not everybody knew who he was. 'What’s your name?’ Everybody had a great reaction.’’

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Arriving for the first time at Dodgers' Camelback Ranch

It’s the first full-squad workout of the spring, my first time ever at the Dodgers’ spring training home in Arizona, and here are some first impressions and observations:

-- Camelback Ranch is gorgeous, with deep green grass surrounded by rocks and building material in desert hues. The stadium, shared with the White Sox, is impressive and feels massive at 10,000 seats.

The complex certainly lacks the charm of Dodgertown. The surrounding area smacks of typical suburbia and doesn’t have the distinctive, tropical feel of Vero Beach, Fla.

But it’s modern and clean and a five-hour drive from L.A., not a five-hour plane ride.

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Koufax, the rain and me

Sandy This was well before cynicism took firm hold. Before having battled one too many prima donnas, heard one too many lies, seen far too many real foibles.

It wasn’t like I was some fresh kid out of journalism school, but it was my first visit to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Dodgertown seemed an almost mythical place.

I tried hard to conceal excitement as I strolled the grounds, to keep an air of professionalism.

And then, there he was.

Sandy Koufax.

He lived in Vero and was something of an occasional, part-time pitching instructor. Would drop by for a few days, work in the ``strings’’ area with a lucky prospect or two.

I knew he was private, media shy. Knew he preferred to avoid interviews. But this was one of the great heroes of my youth, and I had to try.

Never knew why he agreed to be interviewed by a total stranger. Only thought my career was about to peak early. He said he could meet me at the complex early the next day before practice.

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Koufax sighting ... in the Mets' camp

Sandy Hall of Fame pitcher and semi-recluse Sandy Koufax made an unexpected appearance at the Mets' spring camp.

Maybe he’s prepping for his Feb. 27 appearance at the Nokia Theater.

David Waldstein writes in the New York Times that nervous Mets pitchers were stunned when the left-hander showed up Monday to watch them throw and offer kernels of advice.

Koufax lives in the Dodgers’ former spring training home, Vero Beach, about 40 miles north of the Mets’ camp at Port St. Lucie.

Koufax said he came down to visit Terry Collins, the Mets minor-league field coordinator and former Dodgers minor-league manager. He’s made visits to the Mets' camp in the past.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Sandy Koufax at Dodger Stadium in 2005. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

Checking in with Tommy Davis, still the L.A. Dodgers' only batting champion

Davis He seemed a lonely island of offense, surrounded mostly by singles-hitters and speedsters.

Tommy Davis was a phenomenon on those great early-’60s Dodgers teams, a hitting machine who seemed almost out of place in an offense spurred by speedsters Maury Wills and Willie Davis.

"We manufactured runs, and with the pitching we had, the formula was OK,’’ Davis said.

The legendary pitching, of course, included Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres and Claude Osteen.

And although massive Frank Howard could provide some much needed pop, it was Davis who was the consistent offensive threat. His 1962 season remains one of the greatest in Dodgers history -- a .346 batting average, a team-record 153 RBIs , 230 hits and 27 home runs.

"It didn’t come totally together,’’ Davis said. ``We didn’t win.’’

That 1962 batting average won him the first of consecutive National League batting crowns, the only two in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

Davis, 70, now lives in Alta Loma with his wife, Carol. The father of three girls and one son, he continues to work with the Dodgers’ speakers bureau. He also makes visits to the team’s lower minor leagues for hitting instruction, as well as continuing to provide private hitting lessons. He also owns a small marketing company that manufactures T-shirts and hats.

Davis was born in Brooklyn, but didn't make it to the majors until the team moved to Los Angeles. And that might not have happened but for a late phone call.

"I was getting ready to sign with the Yankees because they had shown more interest," he said. "But then I got a call from Jackie Robinson."
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A love of baseball: an uncle's enduring gift

It can be a precious gift, presented without announcement, without expectation.

Finley2 Most often, a love of baseball is handed down from father to son, or daughter, but in my case it came from my uncle, Steve Ferraro.

Not sure how much Steve loved baseball compared with how much he loved the Dodgers, loved Vin Scully, loved picturesque Dodger Stadium.

There was no cable in his day, but he listened to every game. At night, his wife, Grace, might sit on the couch and watch "Gunsmoke’’ while he rested in his favorite chair, facing the television but listening with a single earphone attached to his small transistor radio to every pitch Sandy Koufax would seem to magically weave.

His brother was longtime L.A. City Councilman John Ferraro, and sometimes Steve would produce a pair of box seats to Dodger Stadium. Each time he would invite me, it was a mini-event.

Steve was normally reserved, and I’m not sure he ever felt completely comfortable around children. Normally, our drive up the Golden State Freeway from his home in Whittier was marked by long silences.

But that was OK, because we were sharing something unspoken. Nothing was forced but, much like baseball, played out at its own pace.

Steve insisted we always arrive in time for batting practice, and I could not imagine it being any other way. There would be a double bag of peanuts and a Dodger Dog. Steve bought me my own program and taught me how to score.

Sometimes, we’d be a couple rows back from Frank Sinatra, which was swell, but the celebrities to us were on the field. Don Drysdale looking mountainous on the mound, Maury Wills a blur on the bases, Tommy Davis a genius with the bat.

Scully’s voice beamed from thousands of radios and echoed softly throughout the stadium. We never left early. We took it all in. It was hard to get enough. Steve loved Sunday doubleheaders.

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