Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Koufax glove brings six figures, proving Sandy really is still the Super Jew

April 29, 2009
Posted by Noah

The Sandy Koufax 1966 game-used fielder’s glove that recently sold for $107,000+ in the April Sports Collectibles Auction is the same one I wrote about back in January in the early days of what is now the Juggernaut known as the Heritage Blog – We literally have tens and tens of readers – as a dream lot for any baseball collector, but especially so for Jewish kids of a certain age, to whom Koufax is of divine stature. Now that it’s gone into a good collection, and proved the King Of The Hill for the April auction, I stand by my earlier post.

My heart also swells with pride as Koufax tops this list because it’s a rare feather in the cap of famous Jewish athletes. There are only a few that might come to mind – Rod Carew, Hank Greenburg, Mark Spitz, Mavs owner Mark Cuban – besides Koufax.

I can remember very clearly the adoration with which my Sunday school Hebrew teacher, Mr. Flick, spoke of Koufax when I was a kid, and I also clearly remember being asked by him in a trivia contest what is the name of the famous Jewish pitcher who refused to pitch in the World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. I didn’t know the answer, but my brother Cris did, and he clandestinely wrote it in blue pen on the palm of his hand and showed it to me. It was Koufax, of course, and I would never forget his name after that day, or how good the quarter of that Everything Bagel tasted, given to me as a prize from the teacher for that answer. In fact, I cannot eat an everything bagel with a schmear today without thinking of the great Jewish southpaw hurler.

The glove was given to a National League umpire Doug Harvey in 1966 as a thank you from Koufax for returning his World Series lighter, which Sandy left in a bar one night, and which Harvey picked up.

“Fewer than five fielder’s gloves have ever cleared the six-figure mark at auction,” noted Ivy, “and our Koufax gamer joined that elite club Friday with a result of $107,550.”

The Sandy Koufax glove was the subject of much pre-auction buzz and it proved equal to the hobby interest. One of the greatest pitchers to ever play professional baseball, Koufax left the game after a dozen amazing years with a 165-87 win-loss record, a 2.76 ERA, and 2,396 strikeouts. He a six time All-star, a three-time World Series Winner (and twice the series MVP), a three-time Cy Young winner, and the owner of a Sept. 9, 1965 Perfect Game against the Cubs, despite the arthritis that was ravaging his cannon of an arm and which would force him to retire a year later in 1966.

He was also a first ballot Hall-of-Famer in 1972 and the Dodgers retired his number. He’s also very protective of his name and image, so to have a memento of this magnitude directly attributable to one of the best to ever put on the spikes achieve such a respectable price is simply further reinforcement of his undeniable legend.

Another of the diamond’s great names – and easily one of its greatest sluggers – Josh Gibson proved almost as popular as Koufax, as his 1941 signed Puerto Rican League contract was the subject of one of the most intensely contested lots of the day. When the hammer came down on the intriguing artifact it was to the tune of $95,600. It just goes to show how great a player Gibson was, how wrong it was that he didn’t get to play in the Bigs before his death, and how the fascination with him continues even now.

“Gibson was such a great player, and he died so early, that relics from his career are very tough to come by,” said Ivy. “In the 62 years since his untimely death Gibson’s become much more than just a baseball player; he’s become an American folk hero, ‘The Black Babe Ruth,’ whatever you want to call him. While his stats may remain frustratingly unspecific, his greatness can never be challenged.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Click here if you want to check out the full results of the auction. There’s a ton of great stuff that sold that I would love to write about but just don’t have room.

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-Noah Fleisher

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