Lefty: An American Odyssey

Front Cover
Ballantine Books, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 393 pages
20 Reviews
A baseball legend distinguished by his competitive nature, quick wit, and generous spirit, Lefty Gomez was one of a kind. Told for the first time, this is his remarkable story.

Born to a small-town California ranching family, the youngest of eight, Vernon “Lefty” Gomez rode his powerful arm and jocular personality right across America to the dugout of the New York Yankees. Lefty baffled hitters with his blazing fastball, establishing himself as the team's ace. He vacationed with Babe Ruth, served as Joe DiMaggio's confidant, and consoled Lou Gehrig the day the “Iron Horse” removed himself from the lineup. He started and won the first-ever All-Star Game, was the first pitcher to make the cover of Time magazine, and barnstormed Japan as part of Major League Baseball's grand ambassadorial tour in 1934. Away from the diamond, Lefty played the big-city bon vivant, marrying Broadway star June O'Dea and hobnobbing with a who's who of celebrities, including George Gershwin, Jack Dempsey, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, George M. Cohan, and James Michener. He even scored a private audience with the pope.

And even when his pro ball career was done, Lefty wasn't. He became a national representative for Wilson Sporting Goods, logging over 100,000 miles a year, spreading the word about America's favorite game, and touching thousands of lives. In 1972 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Three baseball fields are named for him, and to this day the top honor bestowed each year by the American Baseball Coaches Association is the Lefty Gomez Award.

Now, drawing on countless conversations with Lefty, interweaving more than three hundred interviews conducted with his family, friends, competitors, and teammates over the course of a decade, and revealing candid photos, documents, and film clips—many never shown publicly—his daughter Vernona Gomez and her award-winning co-author Lawrence Goldstone vividly re-create the life and adventures of the irreverent southpaw fondly dubbed “El Señor Goofy.”

“I'd rather be lucky than good,” Lefty Gomez once quipped—one of many classic one-liners documented here. In the end he was both. A star-studded romp through baseball's most glorious seasons and America's most glamorous years, Lefty is at once a long-overdue reminder of a pitcher's greatness and a heartwarming celebration of a life well-lived.
  

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Review: Lefty: An American Odyssey

User Review  - Spiros - Goodreads

The archetype of what a southpaw should be (well, Rube Waddell was there first), when they made Vernon Gomez, they broke the mold. A fierce competitor, a lightning quick wit, a bon vivant, and a loyal ... Read full review

Review: Lefty: An American Odyssey

User Review  - Rod Culbertson - Goodreads

I enjoyed this book but thought it had more biographical material than actual baseball commentary. It is a biography, of course, so some may enjoy reading the details of Lefty's life more than ... Read full review

All 2 reviews »

Contents

AN ABERRANT DEVIATION IN
9
PICK A SPOT MAKE A DIAMOND
21
ABOUT AS SKINNY AS YOU CAN GET
35
HIS NAMES GOMEZ GO WARM HIM UP
43
I HAD TO STOP GOMEZ
50
PING BABE DUSTER SLOPPY AND LEFTY
59
BASEBALL SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
65
I0 BIRDLEGS AND WALTER THE GREAT
72
HE CANT HIT IT IF I DONT THROW T
204
FAREWELL TO RODEO
215
JUNE IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY
226
THE NOTSOPERFECT CRIME 2 ? 2
232
IMMORTALITY ACHIEVED AND DENIED
246
YOU DONT TELL JUNE SHE CANT DO SOMETHING
257
THEYLL HAVE TO CUT THE UNIFORM OFF ME
265
3 EIGHTY INNINGS
277

A DEATH IN NEW YORK
81
I3 I DONT TALK TO BUSHERS
94
lb THE DOCTOR AND THE DICTATOR
109
I5 JUNE IN JUNE
120
I6 A PITCHERS PITCH
135
I7 THE GREATEST THRILL OF MY CAREER
143
I5 NO LIPSTICK FOR LEFTY I 53
153
GAME OF THE CENTURY
166
LET LOOSE TO RUN AROUND THE WORLD
180
THE YANKEES PAY YOU EVEN WHEN YOU LOSE?
193
YOU COULD SEE IT WAS GONE 285
283
FIELD GENERAL 296
296
NEVER MEASURE A PLAYER WHEN
310
THE BEST POSSIBLE SPORTS EXPERIENCE
327
WINNING FRIENDS AND INFLUENCING PEOPLE
335
SOMETHING YOU CAN ONLY HOPE FOR
345
ill DUANE
351
EPILOGUE
372
INDEX
383
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Vernona Gomez is the daughter of June O'Dea and Vernon "Lefty" Gomez. As a child, she bounced on Babe Ruth's knee, made sand castles on the beach with Joe DiMaggio, and won at cards with the legendary Cy Young. Growing up in a baseball family, Vernona brings an eyewitness account to the adventures chronicled in this book. She is a concert pianist, owner of the Creative Coaching Music Studio in Southport, Connecticut, and has two sons, John and Andrew.
 
Lawrence Goldstone is the author or co-author of thirteen previous books of fiction and nonfiction. One of his novels won a New American Writing Award, another was a New York Times notable mystery. His work has been profiled in The New York Times, The Toronto Star, Salon, and Slate, among others. He lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, with his wife and daughter.

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