SI Vault
December 20, 1965
The year was rich in excellence. Princeton's Bill Bradley astonished the nation by leading his Ivy League team to the semifinals of the NCAA basketball tournament. Gary Player won the U.S. Open to complete his career sweep of all the major golf titles. Jimmy Clark showed his total command of the racing car. Distance Runners Michel Jazy and Ron Clarke broke one world record after another. Willie Mays hit home runs, stopped fights and just missed winning the pennant for San Francisco. But beyond everyone stood Sandy Koufax, Sportsman of the Year (see cover). He overcame a depressing physical disability that manifested itself in spring training (he had to pack his elbow in ice after each game during the season) and spread-eagled baseball as he pitched the Dodgers to the world championship. Of him, baseball's Paul Richards said, 'This man has a sense of responsibility beyond gain and glory.' Jack Olsen asked the normally reticent Koufax about that sense of responsibility—the management of excellence—and got this unique interview KOUFAX ON KOUFAX
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December 20, 1965

Koufax On Koufax

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I get just as excited as anybody. I guess I just don't show my emotions as much as some people.

But you've got 'em?

Sure, I've got 'em. It's your emotions that push you, the desire to be happy, to do a good job. It's my emotions that push me. But I don't get excited so that I jump around. I could never do what Lou Johnson does, yet I've gotta love Lou Johnson. To me, his enthusiasm and his excitement are part of what made the Dodgers win the pennant. I do what Lou Johnson does, but I do it inside myself. I'm happy, I feel great when I do something to help us win.

Do you like to play the game, Sandy? Or is it just a way to make a living?

I love to play. I love the game. The only problem I have is something that all pitchers go through. For three out of four days you just sit around watching and you sit there on the bench, and it's uncomfortable. Somebody gets in trouble and you'd like to be able to help but you have to sit there. Some games are dull and some games are interesting. You can get bored. But if it's dull and you're winning it's not as boring as it is when it's dull and you're losing.

But you know you have to sit there for two or three hours when you haven't got a chance to get in?

That's right, and it's a frustrating feeling. The great thing about Don Drysdale's year was he'd go to the ball park the day after he pitched and think, well, maybe I'll get a chance to pinch-hit. Then he's part of the ball game.

With your hitting that'll never happen to you.

About my hitting, the less said the better.

Well, at least you're not a joke up there anymore. It used to be like comic relief when you came up.

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