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Lefty: An American Odyssey Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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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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Top Customer Reviews
Gomez played during the heyday of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and later Joe DiMaggio. Lefty was The Yankee Clipper's roommate for several years, and taught the quiet DiMaggio life in the big leagues. The book provides numerous anecdotes of the Yankee greats of this time period which enrich the book a great deal. Gomez was there when Ruth supposedly called his "shot" in Wrigley Field during the 1932 World Series. He was also there when Gehrig was stricken with illness and had to prematurely retire from the game.
Gomez married a Broadway show girl who he was married to for well over fifty years. Lefty Gomez was one of several Yankee players who were unceremoniously jettisoned from the roster when they were deemed no longer useful. Lefty then spent brief periods with the Boston Braves and Washington Senators.
When his playing days were over Gomez spent several years working for the Wilson sporting goods company traveling thousands of miles crisscrossing the country. He continued representing the game of baseball in a positive way by mingling with fans at baseball memorabilia card shows. Gomez was very popular as an after-dinner speaker sharing anecdotes of his years with the Yankees and the many greats that he played with.
Vernon "Lefty" Gomez was born in the year 1908 and passed away in 1989. His life encompassed most of the 20th century, and it was a full life indeed. Yankee fan or not. This book is an integral part of baseball's history.
The structure of the book is pretty much typical--a chronological portrayal of his life. The volume does a nice job there, following him from his childhood (with a father who was opposed to a baseball career), to his early baseball experience, to a scout seeing his potential, to his career as a member of the New York Yankees, to his post-Yankee career.
The book is a fairly honest portrayal of Gomez--from the weird effort to divorce his wife, June O'Dea, to his reconciliation (the story is not told very well in this book) to his struggle with alcohol after his playing career ended. This honesty is a plus for the work.
Of course, it is the description of his major league career that is at the center of the book. We get a pretty clear view of Gomez' career and his relationships with players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and others. The discussion of his successes and the wreckage of his arm later in his career (he should have lasted longer with proper care) is poignant.
Questions? Wouldn't it have been nice to have his career statistics as an appendix at the end of the book? I lament the absence of such a statistical summary in a number of baseball biographies that I have read.
All in all, a nice sports biography.
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!!