It's been a longtime coming, but Los Angeles Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax was finally honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium.
The Hall of Fame pitcher joined Jackie Robinson at the new centerfield plaza behind the bleachers at Chavez Ravine.
Koufax and Robinson were teammates with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, and now are immortalized forever in Los Angeles.
Koufax's statue was unveiled during a private ceremony on Saturday morning, hours ahead of the Dodgers game against the Cleveland Guardians.
In attendance, and speaking at the ceremony was Hall of Fame player and manager Joe Torre, Dodgers' ace Clayton Kershaw, and owner Mark Walter.
"Today is one of the greatest honors of my life," said Koufax after seeing his statue for the first time.
"I hope a kid sees the statue and asks his mom or dad about Sandy Koufax," said Kershaw during his speech at the ceremony. "And I hope that they tell him he was a great pitcher. But more than that, that he was a great man who represented the Dodgers with humility, kindness, passion, and class. And for every rookie who sees the statue for the first time and asks if he was any good. I hope the veterans tell him simply that he was the best to ever do it."
The Dodgers unveiled Jackie Robinson's statue in 2017—then located outside the reserve entrance in left field—and announced that they had commissioned a second statue for Koufax.
The team announced in 2019 that the statue would be unveiled in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the unveiling until this season.
The nearly 20-ton statue was sculpted by artist Branly Cadet, the same person who also created Robinson's statue. Cadet said he wanted to incorporate Koufax's famous leg kick in the design. When it came time to sculpting his face, he wanted to portray a dominant, determined, yet even-keeled ace as he goes into his windup about to throw one of his signature curveballs.
"I wanted to capture his strength, his focus, and integrity," said Cadet. "Although he's a very quiet and absolute gentleman, there's a part of him that's just a fierce competitor."
Cadet said that Koufax himself chose the inspirational image for the photo and even posed for the artist holding a baseball, complete with his curveball grip, to make sure the pitcher was represented perfectly.
Koufax was 165-87 in his 12 year career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He won three Cy Young Awards, a National League MVP, and was a two-time World Series MVP. He also threw four no-hitters and a perfect game.
Along with Robinson and Roy Campanella, he was among the first Dodger players to have their number retired, and became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Known simply as the "The Left Arm of God," Koufax had three separate 300+ strikeout seasons, a milestone that only 19 pitchers in history have reached, and only four have ever done it three or more times.
Torre, who was the only person in attendance on Saturday that faced Koufax in his prime, said that his curveball "would start three feet over your head and land in the strike zone." He said his fastball defied gravity, starting at the waist and levitating across the plate, ending up high and tight on right-handed hitters.