Koufax - The Stare, By Stephen Holland

"Pitching is the art of instilling fear." - Sandy Koufax

Koufax Stare by Stephen Holland
Signed by Sandy Koufax
41" x 30" Hand Enhanced giclee on canvas

"I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it."- Sandy Koufax

Stephen Holland has often said he does not paint the spectacle of the sport, nor the "stars" who play them. What he does paint are amazing real people, who posses passions, skills and relentless devotion. With such focus and conviction, they are able to perform what otherwise may seem impossible feats.

This can often be found in the world of Baseball, as one of it's great charms that makes it America's sport, it's the game of the common man. Baseball is not a sport of supermen and Gods, it's a game where real people strive to do amazing things. It's why boys (of all ages) collect baseball cards, why communities unite over their teams sagas and why victors of the field are embraced like hometown heroes. >

Sandy Koufax is one of the great shining examples of this. Koufax's career did not begin with a bang. He actually barely played for his first couple years in pro ball. And when he did begin it was not noticed by many. So much so, the young Koufax during this time took night classes and considered fallback careers.

But just at the brink of putting baseball in his past, with nothing left to lose, Koufax decided to see if he put all he had into the game, how good would he be. And a baseball great rose from the mound.

Koufax in no time at all began to take on baseball's long standing records. Including breaking that year the National League record for strikeouts in a season. In addition, he was called to play in the All Star Game, where he pitched two innings without giving up a run!

But not too long after this amazing career bloom, Sandy took a hand injury while at bat. An injury so severe it required rarely performed, at the time, vascular surgery, taking him out of the game for two months. Coming back with diminished pitching ability, it ultimately cost the Dodgers' the season.

With his will in tact Koufax returned the next season on fire. During the year he pitched his second perfect game, won; the Pitchers Triple Crown, Team MVP, the Hickok Belt and by the first unanimous vote ever, the Cy Young Award.

Now on top of the world, Koufax came back the next season with unexplained arm problems. Despite playing with sever chronic pain, he would maintain his high pitching standard until he couldn't play with the pain anymore. He would later be diagnosed by Dodgers' team physician with traumatic arthritis.

The next year (1965) during spring training, Koufax awoke to find that his entire left arm was black and blue from hemorrhaging. Later a doctor would tell him that he would eventually lose full use of his arm if he continued to play. Despite this alarming news Koufax would play through the season right up to the World Series.

This would become a World Series that no baseball fan would ever forget. Game one happened to fall on Yom Kippur. As an observing Jew, and consistent with his deeply rooted character, Koufax chose his faith over his role as a pitcher.

The choice to not pitch that first game, cost the Dodgers' severely, losing the first game would put them far back. But Koufax came back to fight the fight. The series would play to the 7th game, and would include along the way Koufax pitching a shut out. During all of this he would pitch with no rest, game after game and doing so with escalating severe levels of arthritic pain. In the 7th game the Dodgers' would win the series and Koufax would be awarded the World Series MVP.

That year, due to the choice to save his arm, Koufax would choose to retire from playing the game.

Is there any wonder why Sandy Koufax is one of Stephen Holland's favorite hero's to paint?

With great pride we would like to present to you Stephen Holland's latest work, Koufax - The Stare