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Woodsville coach recounts call from Sandy Koufax

WOODSVILLE — When semi-reclusive Sandy Koufax, the all-time great Dodgers pitcher, does emerge, it’s usually to hold court on a subject that has eluded most mortals since the 19th century: the mysterious art of throwing a baseball.

The left-hander’s audience listens, of course, often in rapt, open-mouthed attention. That includes other major-league pitchers, past and present. This, after all, is a man who in his prime in the 1960s so confounded professional hitters that most readily conceded they had no chance on most nights he took the mound.

But none of that stopped John Bagonzi from speaking up to him.

Then again, no one has ever accused the retired longtime Woodsville High School baseball and basketball coach of shyness. In fact, the former Boston Red Sox farmhand collected his opinions based on his decades as a player, coach and pitching instructor and put them in a 2001 book.

His “The Act of Pitching” was the reason Cleveland Indians pitching great Bob Feller, then Koufax called him: They both liked his book. Koufax just didn’t agree with Bagonzi’s theory that the ball came from the mound toward the hitter on a downward plane. Bagonzi stuck to his guns.

The recollection of the phone call from the three-time Cy Young Award winner and youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame nevertheless gives Bagonzi pause.

“Well, I’ll tell you what; you have a hard time arguing with Sandy Koufax,” he said.

bhookway@newstote.com


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