It wasn’t a big deal – at first. As The Jewish Week reporter Steve Lipman notes in his rare interview with Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax at the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Arizona, when the athlete turned down Game One of the 1965 World Series because the contest with the Minnesota Twins fell on Yom Kippur, the decision made a minor NYC media impression:
The New York Times and New York Post reported matter-of-factly that he would miss the start because that day was “the holiest Jewish holiday.” The Daily News was on strike that week. This newspaper’s predecessor, the Jewish Week & American Examiner, made no mention of the game.
But, through word of mouth in Jewish circles, everyone knew. Over time, that game assumed mythic proportions.
Koufax says he remains surprised by the “fuss” that grew out of his very personal decision and addresses how Jewish athletes today are handling the same issue. There will be a lot more media attention when the 50th anniversary of Koufax’s decision rolls around in the fall of 2015.[Photo of Jewish people praying in Ashod, Israel on Yom Kippur 2012: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com]