During the 1959 World Series, Sandy Koufax was scheduled to pitch in Game 4 against the Chicago White Sox. However, when Game 4 started, Koufax was far from the pitcher’s mound. Instead, he was at home celebrating Rosh Hashanah with his family.
I know what many of you are thinking as you read this — are you serious? Yes, I am. Koufax made his religious observances a priority over his legendary baseball career, missing games during the 1961 and 1963 season for Rosh Hashanah and 1965 for the observance of Yom Kippur. Sandy Koufax was not trying to make some noble point or universal statement to his teammates, his fans, or his country. He was simply doing what he was raised to do and believed in. Koufax was taking the day to sit in synagogue to celebrate the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and atone for his sins (Yom Kippur).