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'Koufax & Torre' Delivers for Crowd and Charity

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, March 01, 2010, at 02:23PM
KOUFAX & Torre...Safe at Home Courtesy of AEG

Moderator T.J. Simers and Dodgers great Sandy Koufax listen to Dodgers manager Joe Torre answer a question during Saturday night's event at Nokia Theatre.



Saturday night's "KOUFAX & TORRE...Safe At Home" event at Nokia Theatre raised $750,000 for Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation and gave the nearly full theatre a chance to hear two baseball icons share stories about their past. It took a little bit to get started, though.

When the program opened with a series of one sentence -- and sometimes one word -- answers from Sandy Koufax, moderator T.J. Simers thought he was in trouble. "I think we're going to bomb at that point," he recalled today.

"I think there was some stage fright involved," the L.A. Times sports columnist added. "Sitting up there, it's intimidating."

Luckily for both Simers and Koufax -- and for an audience eager to hear from one of the Dodgers' all-time greatest pitchers -- the show soon found its groove.

Koufax went on to share stories on topics from his first year in the major leagues -- as a kid with a $14,000 signing bonus, he was invited to every poker game but wasn't really accepted until his first win -- to his perfect game in 1965. He denied feeling lonely on the mound, and said that he became less nervous as the game went on because he knew how good his stuff was that night.

A similar thing happened on Saturday. "Once he got going, I think everyone in that audience hung on his every word," Simers said.

While Torre told his share of stories, he also acted as a second interviewer at times, asking his own questions of his good friend Koufax. "Torre was brilliant," Simers said. "He was funny, he was relaxed. He made Koufax relax."

Among the night's most touching moments came when former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley was introduced, bringing the crowd to their feet for an extended ovation.

Another long standing ovation came at the end of the night, when Koufax and Torre got up, hugged and walked off-stage.

It was clear that Koufax ended up enjoying the event. "He had a blast," Simers said. "He was beaming afterward."

The evening was the second one that Simers has hosted at the Nokia Theatre, following "SCULLY & WOODEN ... For the Kids" in June of 2008. Will there be a third?

Simers isn't sure. "It's got to be perfect."

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