Wednesday’s Book Review: “Lefty: An American Odyssey”

leftyLefty: An American Odyssey. By Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone.  New York: Ballantine Books, 2012.

Vernon Louis “Lefty” Gomez was a solid pitcher for the New York Yankees between 1930 and 1942. A seven-time All-Star and a five-time World Series Champion with one of the greatest Yankee dynasties ever, Gomez played for a time with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio.

He retired at age 34 with a career record of 189–102, four 20 win seasons, and a 3.34 ERA. Not bad overall, but not enough for Hall of Fame induction until the veteran’s committee in 1972 got him into Cooperstown. Always a colorful personality, his humor made him a sought after speaker on the sports and corporate circuit for years. Married to Broadway actress June O’Dea, although it was an often rocky relationship, he finally died in 1989 at age 80.

This is the story told in Lefty: An American Odyssey by his oldest daughter, Vernona and co-author Lawrence Goldstone. It is a rather sweet-hearted portrait, as one might expect from a loving and not a little worshipful daughter. It is a credible intimate account of life with the Yankees, and thereafter, about an effervescent personality who strode across the Major League Baseball scene with some of the giants of the game. It is probably as much as we need to know about Lefty.

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