Ken Thimmel of All American Collectibles in Fair Lawn holds a baseball signed by famed pitcher Sandy Koufax.
In 1965, Dodgers great Sandy Koufax picked Yom Kippur as the one day on which he would not pitch a baseball game. And — since his retirement at age 30 the following year — the pitcher has made a habit of picking just one day a year to sign autographs. Fiercely private, with little regard for fame, Koufax has turned down multimillion-dollar book deals and speaking engagements with as much determination as he used to strike out ‘,396 batters in his 11-year career.
This year’s lucky beneficiary of Koufax’s once-a-year autograph signing is Franklin Lakes resident Ken Thimmel, whose Fair-Lawn based All American Collectibles purchased a bounty of Koufax-autographed baseballs, bats, jerseys, and photographs. Thimmel’s 16-year-old business has a long history of donating memorabilia to charity events —"over 500 a year," said Thimmel — and it is that philanthropic spirit, he said, that helped convince Koufax to sign for his company.
"Sandy does one signing a year, at best. There are about 1,000 dealers that want to do a signing, and about 30 that have the financial wherewithal," said Thimmel. "Only [we] and [trading-card company] Upper Deck got a deal this year. They got signed baseball cards, and we got some limited edition items, including some exclusive photos that have never been seen before."
Those interested in obtaining some rare Koufax autographs can log on to allamericancollectibles.com or call Thimmel at 1-800-WOODY-64. It may be the last chance for a while: Thimmel heard that Koufax turned down a huge book deal a few years ago, insisting that he had "nothing to say."
"Sandy is the nicest guy in the world," said Thimmel, who sat with Koufax during the signing. "He just doesn’t like the stardom. He hasn’t done a public appearance in years. I know that Yogi Berra got him to do something, and they’re good friends — and Yogi is the greatest living Yankee — but it still took Yogi three years to get Sandy to do it. But it’s no disrespect to anybody."