Subject: Wonders in the Quiet Corner
From: Don Dudley
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 2008 19:34:09 -0400
To: Don Dudley

Hey, Fans,

Those of you who have visited us here in Pomfret probably remember that Paul Newman's Hole In the Wall Gang Camp for terminally ill children is eight miles and a couple of towns away in Ashford.  At the end of each summer, the Camp has a benefit gala.  This includes both a silent and live auction and a Fandango performance in their spectacular theater.  This year's gala took place this past Saturday.

Our local Vanilla Bean Cafe provides evening refreshments for the gala.  The last few years Mary has donated her time to VBC owner and friend Barry Jessurun.  In lieu of field hockey, I was hoping to join this year, but Mary had to juggle her work schedule for her own participation and we ran out of time to clear my presence with Barry.

Unfortunately Paul Newman was too sick to attend this year, although his daughter was there.  Last year's Fandango skit featured Pomfret resident Renee Zellweger along with Paul and Joanne Woodward.  This year's entertainers included Bette Middler, who brought the house down with her "Wind Beneath My Wings," and Alec Baldwin, who won the Botswana Wilderness Safari for some $14,000, then generously gave it to the woman he topped in the live auction.

So, why am I telling you all this?  At one point in the evening, Mary noticed a tall, 70ish man giving out a few autographs.  Mary leaned towards Barry and said, "Who's that?"  Barry replied, "I don't know, ask her," pointing towards a camp staff woman.  Mary approached the woman and repeated, "Who's that?"  The woman looked directly at Mary and said, "Sandy Koufax."  Mary said, "No!"

Now, Mary is a relative baseball neophyte, but the significance of this circumstance did not escape her.  She found a program and pen with some difficulty and approached him with, "My husband would be so ...."  Sandy asked her my name and he personalized the autograph accordingly, left-handed, of course.

Mary resisted the temptation to send me an immediate text message reporting the news, but couldn't wait to show me her significant addition to the Dudley Museum when she got home.  I was blown away and couldn't stop asking "Sandy Koufax was in Ashford?"  Mary heard he was at the gala in support of a friend's child.  Might he return next year?

I told Mary that she went clear to the top.  Given that Jackie Robinson died in 1972, there is no one higher on the totem pole.  Not many minutes went by in the early to mid-60s that I didn't think of Sandy Koufax.  The three days between starts were excruciating, and I longed for his post-game interviews with Jerry Doggett on KFI.  In the off season, I would fantasize over and over about him shocking the world with a Perfect Game come Opening Day.

Mary knew, but forgot to tell Sandy that we got married on his 70th birthday, but honestly I might have lapsed there, too.

I had to discipline myself to wait to send this out until today, which is the 43rd anniversary of his Perfect Game and then-record fourth career no-hitter.

Ah, the Quiet Corner.