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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate look at a great Yankee pitcher
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...
Published on March 31, 2012 by Barry Sparks

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Up-Close Bio of a Hall of Famer
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...
Published on June 6, 2012 by Edison McIntyre


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate look at a great Yankee pitcher, March 31, 2012
This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
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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. Gomez worked for Wilson Sporting Goods for many years, traveling more than 100,000 miles, attending banquets, baseball functions, putting on clinics and promoting youth baseball. In 1957, he suffered a nervous breakdown caused by exhaustion and alcoholism. His daughter provides a lot of insight and stories about Lefty's personal life and relationships.

Lefty Gomez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1972, becoming one of the few HOF pitchers with fewer than 200 wins. Lefty died Feb. 17, 1989, at age 80.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Up-Close Bio of a Hall of Famer, June 6, 2012
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Edison McIntyre (Durham, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
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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. After several years of sandlot and semipro ball in the Bay area, he played for a minor league team in Salt Lake City and then for the fabled San Francisco Seals of the old Pacific Coast League before the Yankees bought his contract prior to the 1930 season. The Lanky Yankee played alongside such pinstripe legends as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie "Red" Ruffing, Tony Lazzeri, Bill Dickey, Phil Rizzuto, and many others who graced Yankee Stadium in the `30s and early `40s. It was not a long career - eight really productive seasons before a shoulder injury in 1939 precipitated a slow decline. He pitched only twenty-seven innings in 1940, then went 15-5 in helping the Yankees win the 1941 pennant. But Lefty was so erratic that year that he didn't pitch in the World Series victory over Brooklyn, and after a 6-4 season in 1942, the Yankees cut him loose. Lefty would pitch one game for the Washington Senators in 1943 - his last loss - before hanging up his cleats.

Fortunately, Lefty's life off the field was largely a happy one. In 1933 he married June O'Dea, a New York showgirl, and they would eventually have four children in more than fifty years of wedlock. Out of the majors, Lefty worked a few odd gigs before latching on to a long-time job doing sales and promotional work for the Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a position he held for almost four decades before his death in 1989. Lefty's ingratiating personality and humor made him a favorite on the after-dinner speaker circuit, and he also traveled abroad extensively, especially in Latin America, as a baseball instructor and coach.

One might be justifiably wary of any biography written by a son or daughter, but Vernona (Lefty's oldest child) and her collaborator, Lawrence Goldstone, keep a respectable distance from the father-daughter relationship. There's no doubt that this is an affectionate, even adoring portrait of her father and mother (indeed, the book might better be titled "Lefty and June" because of the prominence the ballplayer's wife receives in some chapters). But the authors also include some less pleasant episodes - marital discord, a miscarriage, the death of a son, Lefty's bout with alcoholism in his later years - and handle them openly and without sensation. Vernona must have worked on this book for many years, as she includes accounts based on interviews with a host of old-time players, wives, and other observers, most now regrettably gone.

LEFTY is not only a good picture of this talented, entertaining ballplayer - who finally won admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 - but gives a flavorful view of the Yankees in the `30s, struggling in the early part of the decade and then roaring back in the late `30s to the glory days of Joltin' Joe and the Bronx Bombers. Fans of baseball, and baseball history, will find LEFTY a worthwhile read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insights into an all-time baseball great, September 5, 2013
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must, April 25, 2014
By 
M. Fisher (Yukon, Oklahoma United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
I always enjoy reading of Gomez's wit, and this shows us the man behind the tales. As his daughter worked on the book, we truly get into his character. She doesn't pull punches, but this is no "Daddy Dearest." It's a tale of love, and one that any baseball fan will enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars South of the Rotation, November 10, 2013
This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
Lefty Gomez was one of the faces of one the greatest franchises in sports history. He played on the field and interfaced in the clubhouse with some of the luminaries of the Yankees in their Golden Age. Though rivalled by the Yankees of 1950's and early 1960's, the teams Gomez pitched for fielded Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and later, Joe DiMaggio.

Gomez emerged as their Ace, but also as their money pitcher, a performer who can be counted on for the really crucial games.

But, Gomez also emerged as a personality on a team of players devoid of color. Lou Gehrig, for instance, through his greatness, was a conservative, habitual man. Gomez was a fun-loving, rollicking personality, but also a caring, intuitive friend.

This book does not lionize him. He had his warts, and this bio explores them. He also had his times of crisis...adultery, a public divorce trial, and raging alcoholism at one point. Yet, his humor carries him through both his pitching career, and the end of his career, and his second career as a salesman for Wilson. His native intelligence, sharp wit, and down to Earth approach took him far throughout his life.

This is a fitting bio of an icon of an earlier age that not many know about. Looking back at his career numbers, he might be considered a fringe Hall of Famer, but his place on a team that can be considered by many to be the best of all-time is indisputable.

In a time in sports where vivid personalities in sports were hailed by some of hte greatest sportswriters in sports history, Gomez emerges as one of the favorites, and one of the most decent and likable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lefty pitches another gem, June 14, 2014
By 
Lindenhurst Mike (Lindenhurst Illinois) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
Well written, quick paced biography of a fascinating baseball great. The book offers great insight into the man presenting a deeply intelligent, humble and self-deprecating man of many passions: baseball, airplane flying, saxophone playing. Lefty Gomez ran in multiple eclectic social circles.

The book provides wonderful historical and cultural context. The baseball moments and perspective is just right for both serious and casual fans.

Lefty is a most enjoyable biography.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When the Game Was Great, May 11, 2013
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DDSC "LiteraryArky" (Beebe, AR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
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As a Cardinal and National League fan, I went into this book with a bias, but this is a great story about one of baseball's best pitchers. What I found most interesting was the cast of characters from baseball's great days. Filled with wit and baseball lore Lefty holds its own against other baseball players books that I have read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography, Baseball, Life, Brilliant !, March 30, 2013
This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
I must admit, I was not looking for this book specifically, but my hand automatically reached for it. I knew it would be interesting, but it was much more than that. Certainly, Lefty Gomez was central to the story, but it is a as much about people, history, decades and families. One does not need to be a baseball enthusiast (but it doesn't hurt), as this book is not about idolatry, but it makes these idols of our youth (or lore) people, not hero's. It was a beautifully written book that I looked forward to reading every night before I fell asleep. The only thing I did not care for, was that it had to end. I highly recommend this book as a great biographical, historical, human interest book in which the central figure was a good and descent man; a friend, family man, employee; a funny, witty, well-known guy who had time and a smile for all, from young kids to fellow Hall-of-Famers and everyone in between. Mr. Gomez's daughter Vernona, showed a deft touch for the intricacies involved in writing about her beloved father, her mother and siblings, without over-glorifying. A tip of the cap to Vernona Gomez for a job well done, a family well-loved, and a most enjoyable book. Respectfully, Stewart Johnson
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST book I've read this year!, August 26, 2012
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This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (Hardcover)
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If you do not read any other book than this one, you've done very, very well. I won't reiterate what others have said here, but be sure that not only are you getting an "insider's" look at the life of not just one, but many of the other Yankee baseball greats, but you're also getting a glimpse of American history post WWI and throughout the 1900s. It is just SO well thought out, well written, and just so very interesting that it is very difficult to put down. I was asked why it was taking me so long to read this one (which is about 375 pages), when it takes me only a couple of hours to read one of those "romance" novels, and I replied, "This is American history and the history of baseball at it's finest. What's the rush?" Hands down, whether or not you're a Yankee fan, you have to get this book. It's just so full of fabulous stories of one of America's greatest baseball ambassadors and an overall great guy. Get this book for everyone you know too - it's really that good. Highly, highly, highly recommend!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lefty Always Right to the Heart, July 27, 2012
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This review is from: Lefty: An American Odyssey (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. We learn that the taciturn Yankee Clipper roomed with the gregarious Lefty his first six years with the Yankees. Also, that Lefty and his wife June O'Dea, a Broadway actress, a few days after the game were to attend the `re-marriage' of Joe DiMaggio and his wife Marilyn Monroe in Los Angeles. Tragically, Monroe died the next day at home from a drug overdose. During DiMaggio's grief Lefty would call him twice a week just to talk. "That's what roomies are for." This bitter-sweet narrative tone gives Lefty a truth-stranger-than-fiction appeal and moves autobiography firmly into the realm of social history. This is a book not only about a great player until recently forgotten by most fans, but a book that remembers the greatness of the game itself. I highly recommend it to all who love the game. My Dad would have loved Lefty.
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Lefty: An American Odyssey
Lefty: An American Odyssey by Lawrence Goldstone (Hardcover - May 15, 2012)
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