By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com February 22 2003 1:00 AM ET
Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax has severed ties with the Los Angeles Dodgers because of a gossip-column item in a newspaper owned by the team's parent company. The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Koufax told the Dodgers he would no longer attend spring training at Dodgertown in Florida, visit Dodger Stadium, or participate in any Dodger-related activities while the team is owned by News Corp. because of a short item in News Corp.'s New York Post that intimated Koufax is gay.
The Times said Koufax, through friend Derrick Hall, a Dodgers senior vice president, declined comment Thursday night but that officials familiar with the situation said the former pitcher broke off ties after 48 years in response to a two-sentence item than ran in the New York Post tabloid on December 19. The Post reported that a "Hall of Fame baseball hero" had "cooperated with a best-selling biography only because the author promised to keep it secret that he is gay. The author kept her word, but big mouths at the publishing house can't keep from flapping." Koufax, who was not specifically named by the paper, is the subject of Jane Leavy's biography, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, published in September.
Expressing his feelings to the Dodgers through Hall shortly after learning of the report, Koufax said, "It does not make sense for me to promote any" of the companies controlled by News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, adding that he would "feel foolish to be associated with or promote one entity if it helps another." Hall said that Koufax stressed that he has "no problems with the Dodgers or their current or previous management. It's more so about [News Corp.]."
Leavy, a former Washington Post reporter, told the Times that she assumed the item was about her book. "[The item] was blatantly unfair, scandalous, and contemptible," Leavy said. "It was thoroughly without basis insofar as it had to do with Sandy or any relationship I had with him professionally. It's not the kind of journalism I practice. Sandy Koufax is as principled a human being as I have ever met in my life. If this is a stand he is taking, I certainly understand why he might feel that way, and I totally support it."
Hall, who had dinner with Koufax on Wednesday in Vero Beach, Fla., spoke on behalf of Dodgers chairman Bob Daly and president Bob Graziano. "It was irresponsible and inappropriate," Hall said. "It's unfortunate that this happened, but we fully support and understand Sandy's position on this. It's terrible, because he's an important part of this organization and its rich history. And most important, Sandy has a lot of friends who are hurt by this."
News Corp., which bought the Dodgers in 1997, is trying to sell the club, with former New York sports executive David Checketts recently making a reported offer of $650 million.