Jewish Journal


September 20, 2007

Sandy Koufax kippah—sports memorabilia that won’t get you arrested *


I’ve partied with rock stars and played poker with Hollywood heroes but I’m a fan of only one celebrity—Sandy Koufax.

When Sandy refused to pitch on Yom Kippur during the 1965 World Series (the Dodgers won anyhow) he became an instant hero to Jewish boys like me across America.

And with all the bullshit coverage from Vegas over sports memorabilia from a murderer, I was happy to find a new Koufax memento for sale—his yarmulke (Jewish skullcap, or ‘kippah’ in Hebrew) is up for auction on on eBay. (Sold! for $91 Wednesday night.)

The seller offers this story of its provenance:

My husband and uncle got to talking about baseball last Rosh Hashanah, when my uncle mentioned that he had a unique item for us. In the early 70’s he lived in Ellsworth, Maine. Koufax was apparently a part-time resident of the town and in 1971 showed up at a wedding in nearby Bangor where the closest Synagogue was.

My uncle quietly approached Mr. Koufax after the service and asked for his autograph. Koufax politely declined but my uncle got the next best thing- the yarmulke he was wearing! [For the gentiles out there, most synagogues have loaner yarmulkes for the skull-capless to wear during the ceremony and return afterwards.] When Koufax returned his, my uncle snagged it. Not quite in keeping with the Old Testament, but my uncle believes God is a Dodgers fan and would completely understand.

He’s kept this yarmulke for years and even considered going to Spring Training just to get Sandy to sign it (how cool would that be?).  So after years of being banished to my uncle’s sock drawer, he asked us to sell it for him. With that said, we are please to offer (possibly) the only Synagogue-worn Sandy Koufax yarmulke.

This yarmulke has seen plenty of prayer services and rocked out to many cantors (who knows, maybe even a bris or bar mitzvah too). I cannot guarantee wearing it will give you a devastating curveball or improve your fastball, but it should make you feel a little more pious.

Now if I were a collector, I’d go for that!  Thanks, Sandy and Shana Tova!

May we all be sealed in the Book of Life for a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year.

* Updated Thursday morning evening, Sept. 27, 2007

—Dennis Wilen

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