Cleanup hitter

When Sandy Koufax chose Yom Kippur over the World Series

Hall of Famer’s decision not to take the mound of the Day of Atonement still lives on in Jewish baseball lore

JTA — As Yom Kippur approaches, Jewish baseball fans hark back to the fall of 1965, when Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax said he would not take the mound in Game 1 of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins as it fell on the Day of Atonement.

Mind you, this was no ordinary pitcher. Koufax dominated on the hill that season for Los Angeles and would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Koufax (now in his early 80s) and his choice would go down in Jewish lore, to be recalled annually on Yom Kippur – or perhaps whenever his coreligionists have a tough call to make.

“There was no hard decision for me,” he would say later in an ESPN documentary released in 2000. “It was just a thing of respect. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, and I had no idea that it would impact that many people.”

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