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Lefty O'Doul

Left fielder
Born: March 4, 1897(1897-03-04)
San Francisco, California
Died: December 7, 1969 (aged 72)
San Francisco, California
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
April 29, 1919 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1934 for the New York Giants
Career statistics
Batting average     .349
Home runs     113
Runs batted in     542
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Francis Joseph "Lefty" O'Doul (March 4, 1897–December 7, 1969) was an American Major League Baseball player who went on to become an extraordinarily successful manager in the minor leagues, and also a vital figure in the establishment of professional baseball in Japan.

Contents

Player

Born in San Francisco, California, O'Doul began his professional career as a left-handed pitcher with the minor-league San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. After some major-league success with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox from 1919 to 1923, he developed a sore arm which relegated him to relief duties. Returning to the Pacific Coast League, he converted himself to a power-hitting outfielder. The New York Giants brought him back to the major leagues in 1928, where he batted .319 as a platoon player.

O'Doul was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1929 and, teaming up with Chuck Klein, had one of the best offensive years in baseball history, leading the League in batting at .398 with 254 hits, 32 home runs, 122 runs batted in, and 152 runs scored. He continued to play well for Philadelphia but was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932, where he batted .368 to win another league batting title before ending his career back with New York in 1934.

Manager

O'Doul then returned to the Pacific Coast League as manager of the San Francisco Seals from 1937 to 1951, later managing several other teams in the circuit and becoming the most successful manager in PCL history. One of his outstanding accomplishments while managing the Seals was developing the young Joe DiMaggio, who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the New York Yankees. O'Doul refused to take credit for DiMaggio's success, saying "I was just smart enough to leave him alone."[1]

Legacy

O'Doul was instrumental in spreading baseball's popularity in Japan, serving as the sport's goodwill ambassador before and after World War II. The Tokyo Giants, sometimes considered "Japan's Baseball Team," were named by him in 1935 in honor of his longtime association with the New York Giants.

O'Doul was inducted into the San Francisco Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. The question looming over the career and legacy of Lefty O'Doul is what has prevented him from being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

O'Doul's fame and popularity live on in his hometown of San Francisco. The popular restaurant and bar he founded still operates as Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge on Geary Boulevard, and still serves his original recipe for Bloody Mary (albeit secretly modified in the 1960s by O'Doul's bartender Chuck Davis, who remains at the bar as of 2009).[2] A bridge over McCovey Cove, near the Giants' home field of AT&T Park, is named the Lefty O'Doul Bridge in his honor.

References

See also

Further reading

  • Leutzinger, Richard. "Lefty O'Doul and the Development of Japanese Baseball". The National Pastime, no. 12 (1992), pp. 30–34. ISBN 091013748X.
  • Leutzinger, Richard. Lefty O’Doul, the Legend That Baseball Nearly Forgot: The Story of the Hall of Fame’s Missing Star. Carmel, Calif.: Carmel Bay Publishing Group, 1997. ISBN 1883532035.
  • Dobbins, Dick; Twichell, Jon (editor: Rochmis, Jon). "Nuggets on the Diamond, Professional Baseball in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present". San Francisco, Calif.: Woodford Press, 1994. ISBN 0-942627-00-9; ISBN 0-942627-01-6.

External links

Preceded by
Rogers Hornsby
National League Batting Champion
1929
Succeeded by
Bill Terry
Preceded by
Chick Hafey
National League Batting Champion
1932
Succeeded by
Chuck Klein
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