(Author’s note: I’ve been feeling nostalgic. I wrote this story in 2001, back when I was unemployed and full of creative angst. I haven’t finished anything since, but I’ ve been trying to get back into the groove, so maybe I’ll have something new in the near future. I used to work in an intensive care unit and I always wondered what the doctors were like away from the hospital. Did they bring their work home with them? The other idea came from a transcript of Vin Scully calling Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965. My mom calls this my “sex” story, which is accurate, I guess. So be forewarned: if sex, drugs, and (a little) rock n’ roll offends you, you probably shouldn’t be traipsing around the Web. Enjoy . ~ smh)
I am Sandy Koufax by Shane Michael Hansanuwat
“Three times in his sensational career has Sandy Koufax walked out to the mound to pitch a fateful ninth where he turned in a no-hitter. But tonight, September ninth, nineteen hundred and sixty-five, he made the toughest walk of his career, I’m sure, because through eight innings he has pitched a perfect game…”
Sandy Koufax had the right idea. He knew when to get out
Sandy Koufax was born with a golden arm, his left arm, a miracle, a blessing direct from God, and he treated it as such. Unlike most heroes of our time, who succumb to their hubris, we don’t have to ignore an image of a cirrhotic Mantle or “the Greatest” silenced by palsy to get to his perfection. With Koufax there is only perfection.
“Here the strike one pitch to Krug: fastball, swung on and missed, strike two. And you can almost taste the pressure now…”
I grew up in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles, in a time when Sandy Koufax was the definition of greatness. He was a celebrity. He was a Dodger. And he was Jewish. Every time we watched him topple backwards into his classic windup, left leg outstretched like a cantilever, every boy on my street wanted to be Sandy Koufax, when our mothers wanted us to be David Ben-Gurion. We didn’t even know who David Ben-Gurion was. Koufax was a hero the way heroes should be. Sandy Koufax had the right idea. He left at the top of his game and snuck away into a quiet life, leaving his star to shine untarnished.
“Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill. Krug must feel it too as he backs out, heaves a sigh, took off his helmet, put it back on and steps back to the plate…”
I was never blessed with a left arm like Sandy Koufax, but I had a different gift: two hands perfectly suited for my profession and I sometimes think of them as miracles, like his arm. Just as he inspired my dreams, I give hundreds of others a chance to dream their own.
“And there’s twenty nine thousand people in the ballpark and a million butterflies. Twenty nine thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine paid…”
I’m sitting in my car, in the driveway, listening to a Dodger game, numb to everything in the world except for Vin Scully’s voice. I’m perfectly still, not paying much attention to the particulars of the game, instead focused on his rhythmic cadence, the rise and fall, effortlessly delivered. It has a soothing effect, like the voice of everyone’s beloved grandfather, or better yet, a lullaby. The driver’s side window is halfway down and the wind is making the pores in my face tighten. It’s months before a new baseball season will begin, yet I sit in my car with my eyes closed, letting his voice wash over me, and at this moment the world is still.
“A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts. Sandy reading signs, into his windup, 2-2 pitch: fastball, got him swingin’! Sandy Koufax has struck out twelve. He is two outs away from a perfect game.”