if you say Lefty then I thin Steve Carlton who was #32 for Cards and Phillies. I checked the papers every morning for Koufax and Drysdale while very young and remember learning holdout from those two seeking 100k which was outlandish. DVH can use 32 for Koufax but sall in all there is a Hall of Fame argument that maybe the man known as Lefty because of his duration. Just surprising to me to save 32 for a S Koufax type because there was an injury affliction attached.
Koufax was WAY before Carlton. I do not know, but I figure Carlton wore 32 because of Koufax.
There is a website that lists the most famous players to wear each number. One of the few that the author would not opt for just one was 32. He listed both Carlton and Koufax and said there was no way to pick one over the other. Probably depends on your age. For someone like me who drooled over having Koufax on my Stratomatic baseball team in the late 60s, it’s Koufax.You looked at the odds of winning with him (or getting a no-hitter), and you put him out there every day – even if you had Don Drysdale, too.
FYI, it was a fun story to write. I knew Van Horn – a little younger than me – grew up following the great MLB players just like me.
I love to look at who gets what number each year. I was really confused the first scrimmage when I was trying to fill out my scorebook. There were no lineup cards and I was the only one in the press box. So I filled it out as the batters came to bat in the first two or three innings. I had my roster from the HI that had been printed. I got the roster before it went on the website.
And, then I looked out to second base and the starter for the black team had on a black jersey with no number. What? No number. Then, I started going through in process of elimination and I didn’t see a No. 1 in the dugout. That’s the number Robert Moore picked. It had to be him at second base.
I believe Boulware wore No. 1 in the fall, but I’m not sure. I suspect that his practice No. 1s disappeared when he transferred. And, I confirmed in the third inning that Moore was wearing No. 1.
I like to ask players why they wear a certain number. I asked Jax Biggers if he knew who else had worn No. 9. Immediately, he said Ted Williams. I countered with, “The Splendid Splinter.” He smiled. He didn’t know that’s what Williams was called. Then, I gave him some other great No. 9s. Roger Maris wore No. 9 with the Yankees and the Cardinals. I asked him who was the greatest No. 7. He smiled and said, “Mantle.” Yup.
Back to Koufax, I met Jane Leavy about 20 years ago. She wrote the definitive book on Koufax. It was a masterpiece. She was in Miami, Okla., working on the same type Mickey Mantle book. I was there to take a lesson and hang out for a day with my golf teacher and great friend, the legendary Marshall Smith. I’ve written on Marshall several times. He passed away about 7-8 years ago. The three of us went to lunch. I got to hear a lot of Mickey Mantle stories from both. Jane and I corresponded for a bit. I got her into the morgue at the Tulsa World to look at paper clips on Mantle. I was fascinated with her interviewing skills and attention to detail and how she double checked facts. She ended up sending me the Koufax book and later sent me the book on Mantle. The stuff she got from Marshall on Mantle that day ended up being about 15-20 paragraphs in a massive book. She spent an entire day working on just the info from Marshall on Mantle for that couple of pages. Now, she spent another few days in Miami with others who grew up with Mantle. She was just checking some of the stories she’d heard from Mantle’s teammates. And information on the rest of Mantle’s family.
She told me that research for those books – and she’s written some others on great players – usually took 12-14 months. She also wrote for some of the great writer for the Washington Post. I count it among my good fortunes to be invited to take a lesson from Marshall the same day she was to spend time with him. That turned into a great lunch and then her following us to the golf course as I hit balls. I was glad when the lesson was over so we could get back to visiting about Mickey Mantle and just more chances to see a great writer interviewing. She took notes, had a digital tape recorder and had an outline with questions. But she’d dive in after each question with follow ups. Amazing stuff.
I was too young to know much about Koufax but he was the real deal, one of those guys with that delivery of his, it was very hard to pick up the ball but I’m surprised he ever threw a strike LOL. Same way with Juan marichal… Koufax was dominant is anybody has that has ever pitched, I wish I could have seen him.
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