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Lefty: An American Odyssey Hardcover – May 15, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Advance praise for Lefty

"In the darkest decade of the American Century, the 1930s, 'Lefty' Gomez gave baseball fans--which is to say, sensible Americans--something to cheer for and to admire. His story transcends sports and gives us a much-needed lesson in grit and grace."—Jon Meacham
“In a loving and beautifully written tribute to her parents, Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone recapture the magic of a time when baseball and Broadway were our true national pastimes. Be prepared to be transformed, and to discover stars who were stars in an age when that word really meant something.”--Mike Greenberg, New York Times bestselling author and co-host of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning”

“The authors brought back great memories to me in this book. I always loved the way Lefty made my dad laugh, and I loved listening to the stories about Bing hanging out with the baseball gods in their prime. These stories allowed me to see my father as he was long before I was ever born. My sisters and I loved it when Lefty came to visit—we got to watch TV because Lefty would turn it on for us. My dad always deferred to Lefty and house rules flew out the window! Thanks for such a nostalgic and entertaining book.”—Kurt Russell
“An absolutely great read and not just for baseball fans. This book brings the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, in particular, alive in such a fun and exciting way. I loved it.”—Louise Russell
“Baseball fans everywhere will appreciate the book. Here was a man who wagered with Ruth, laughed with Gehrig, and roomed with DiMaggio. He was known as the fire-throwing left-hander of the successful Yankees teams of the 1930s and as the man that made clowning around the diamond famous. Lefty’s adventurous stories both on and off the diamond will have readers talking about this book for many years to come.”—Steven Tellefsen, president and CEO, Babe Ruth League, Inc.

About the Author

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345526481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345526489
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on March 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Co-authors Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone present an intimate portrait of Yankee Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez in "Lefty: An American Odyssey." Vernona is the daughter of Vernon "Lefty" and June Gomez.

Gomez was the glue of the Yankees' clubhouse and pitching rotation in the 1930s. He was the game's highest paid pitcher in 1935 with a $20,000 salary. The southpaw compiled a 189-102 won-loss record, won 20 games four times, led the league in shutouts and strikeouts twice and ERA twice. He fashioned a 6-0 record and a 2.86 ERA in five World Series.

The book focuses more on Lefty's personal life than his baseball career. For example, many more pages are devoted to Lefty's highly publicized marital problems and near-divorce (he and his wife, June, a Broadway dancer, reconciled and were married for 55 years) than any of his World Series performances.

The book offers a thorough account of Gomez's boyhood. Gomez started playing semi-pro ball at age 14 and played in the Pacific Coast League before joining the Yankees in 1930. Always a tough competitor, Lefty pitched in plenty of crucial games.

Although he was known as "El Goofo" for his humor and wit, he was astute and intelligent. Gomez roomed with Joe DiMaggio from 1936 to 1942 and they became lifelong friends. Lefty had the gift of gab and made friends wherever he went.

The book offers an interesting chapter on the 1934 Tour of Japan by Gomez, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and other major leaguers.

Arm problems led to the Yankees releasing Gomez in January 1943. He finished his career with one appearance with the Washington Senators in 1943. He retired at the age of 33.

The final 90 pages cover Gomez's life after he retired from baseball.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By lindapanzo on September 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Most baseball biographies, especially of old-timers from baseball's Golden Age, rely on statistics, newspaper reports, and, occasionally, teammates' remembrances. True insight into the ballplayer himself is rare.

Fortunately, this book about Hall of Fame pitcher Vernon (Lefty) Gomez, written by his daughter, is not like most baseball biographies. This terrific biography is chock full of personal anecdotes and family stories so that the reader gets a real insight into the man himself.

Though his nickname was Goofy, Lefty was a smart, interesting guy. He was a good friend of Babe Ruth's and was a long-time friend of Joe DiMaggio's. His wife was a star on Broadway. Lefty loved to travel and had plenty of entertaining stories to tell.

This is a very interesting biography with as much information about his life outside of baseball as it has about his baseball career. Highly recommended!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Edison McIntyre VINE VOICE on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
They didn't call Vernon Louis Gomez "Goofy" for nothing. The New York Yankees pitcher was never much of a hitter, especially when up against the likes of Bob Feller, the young fireballer for the Cleveland Indians. In a late afternoon game on a misty day, when Feller's fastball was hopping and the sun was going down, Gomez came to the batter's box and pulled out a match. As he lit it, the umpire asked, "You think that's going to help you see the ball?"

"No," said Gomez, "I just want to be sure Feller can see me!"

"Lefty" Gomez was one of the great wits of baseball, as much loved and admired for his humor and generosity as for his skills on the mound. He was the backbone of the New York Yankees pitching staff through the 1930s, winning twenty games or more in four of his fourteen Major League seasons. With Gomez on the mound, the Yankees won five American League pennants and five World Series (1932, 1936-39, finishing second in the league in 1931 and 1933-35). Lefty also was the winning pitcher in the first Baseball All-Star Game in 1933, and he would be named to the American League team for the six following seasons. Gomez's career stats are not spectacular - overall he won 189 games and lost 102, with a 3.34 earned run average (per nine-inning game) - but that's still the fourth highest winning percentage, .649, among pitchers who started their careers between 1900 and 1950 and had 200 decisions or more, and fifteenth highest among 200+ pitchers all-time.

Lefty was born in 1908 to a big American family (Spanish-Portuguese father, Welsh-Irish mother) on the shores of San Pablo Bay, north of San Francisco. Early on, he found a passion for baseball and developed into an effective southpaw with a blazing fastball.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charles A. Ralston on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I first heard the name Lefty Gomez, while listening with my Dad to a 1956 Yankee-Dodgers World Series game: "Whitey Ford is my favorite Yankee, after Mickey Mantle." Dad replied, "When I was your age my favorite Yankee was Lefty Gomez, after Lou Gehrig." I would guess all kids learn about baseball players this way: fathers and sons playing catch and (today) watching games.

Lefty: An American Odyssey (New York : Ballantine Books ; imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, 2012) is a book about one of the great New York Yankees pitchers in the 1930s and early 1940s who appeared in seven All-Star games (1933 through 1939) and a member of five New York Yankees World Series championships (1932, 1936 through 1939). Vernon `Lefty' Gomez was a 20-game winner four times. Unlike teammates Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth who were inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame almost immediately after retirement, Lefty was not inducted until 1972, nearly thirty years following his in 1943. Verona Gomez, Lefty's daughter, and co-author Lawrence Goldstone, have written an informative and hilarious biography of Vernon `Lefty' Gomez and at the same time a nostalgic review of the America's national past time for most of the last century.

The book's Prologue, as but one example, gives the reader a nostalgic look at the August 4th, 1962 Old Timers Game at San Francisco's Candlestick Park where veterans of the Giants (who had recently in 1958 been in New York) played veterans of the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, which Triple-A franchise closed in 1957 to make way for the Giants. The Seals veteran ball players included outfielders Dom, Vince, and `Yankee Clipper' Joe DiMaggio, and pitcher Vernon `Lefty' Gomez.
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