Koufax Still Refusing to Pitch on Yom Kippur
(Left) The feared hurler as he appeared to opposition batters. Koufax won 165 games during his illustrious career - but none on Yom Kippur.
The 70-year-old Hall-of-Famer, who last threw a ball in competition in 1966, stunned the baseball world in 1965 when he refused to pitch the opening game of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins due to its falling on the Jewish “Day of Atonement.” In a packed press conference today in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, the left-hander said his feelings hadn’t changed.
Addressing reporters with the same steely-eyed determination he used to intimidate an entire generation of National League hitters, the famed southpaw spoke forcefully. "If I get a phone call and get asked to pitch, and it falls on that day, the answer is still no," Koufax said. "That's not to say I couldn't do it; the arm's feeling pretty good. Hell, I pitched shutouts on two days’ rest, just think what I'd be able to do after forty years.
"But it's a matter of principle,” he added. “If they call me in, I just won't go. If they hand me the ball, I just won't throw it."
Koufax, who now owns and operates a small kosher deli in the Brentwood Hills section of Los Angeles, abruptly ended the conference after announcing that he would also refuse to pitch on Rosh Hashana, Labor Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas, Arbor Day, and any day falling in the month of Ramadan.