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
Sandy, what's the difference between the way you manage your life and the way anybody else would manage his?
I don't do anything different. I do the things that most people do. There are times when I feel like I have an obligation not to do certain things because I'm preparing myself to pitch. But other than that my life is about as normal as I can keep it.
Yes, but you have this reputation for being awfully hard on yourself.
Maybe I am. I know sometimes people'll say, "Well, you've done everything possible, what're you gonna do next? You can't pitch a better ball game." And I say to myself, "Well, why not? Why can't I do more, why can't I do a better job?" There's nothing to stop me—except the hitters. You can always try to pitch a better ball game, the best you possibly can.
Sandy, I've seen you after you've pitched and you sit at your locker and you look like World War II. At this stage of your career isn't there any tendency on your part to jake it a little, not to put out quite so much?
I can't. I can't. Sometimes you get enough runs and you try to take it easy and all of a sudden you're in trouble.
Yes, but you go out there and work like a guy who's expecting to be cut right after the game.
You've got to put out on every pitch. How do you know what the other pitcher's going to do? He's out there trying to get your team out, too. People say, doesn't it make you a better pitcher because your team doesn't score runs, doesn't that make you bear down? Well, the Dodgers score more runs than people think, but even if your ball club scores a lot of runs I don't think you can take the attitude that you can give up two or three runs and still win. You've got to say to yourself, "I don't know how many I'm gonna get, but if I can keep the other side from scoring any I have a lot better chance." So you put out on every pitch.
People say you're your own toughest critic.