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Lefty: An American Odyssey by Vernona Gomez
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Lefty: An American Odyssey (2012)

by Vernona Gomez

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had an advanced copy of this book, which is now in the research library of Jon Dunkle, Baseball Historian.
Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone hit a home run when they wrote this book. It could be one of the best sports biographies ever written, and a sure bet for the bestseller list.

I knew I would enjoy reading this book because Lawrence Goldstone was one of the authors. I'm familiar with his writing, having read several of the books about book collecting he coauthored with his wife. But in this case, I think Goldstone only played a minor part, fine tuning Vernona Gomez's manuscript.

This book is written from the heart –– the heart of Lefty Gomez's daughter, Vernona Gomez's heart. Bleeding through the words is a father's personality as witnessed by his daughter and viewed by the rest of the world.

I had the advance uncorrected proof of this book, but I ordered a hardcover copy as well because the Index is lacking in the uncorrected proof. I want to readily find the many anecdotes regarding Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and all the other Yankees that fill the pages of this book. A most enjoyable read! Moi recommends! ( )
  moibibliomaniac | Sep 12, 2016 |
I grew up in Novato, and was one of the lucky kids who got to meet this wonderful man and look at all the memorabilia in his home! This story is an amazing look at a man who's life spanned the depression to the first President Bush, and who's playing career spanned from Babe Ruth to Joe D. And along the way he seemed to rub shoulders with a who's-who of everyone else in that era! Fidel Castro, Papa Hemingway, Kurt Russell, James Michener and too many others to mention here! Read this book to learn more, just like I did! I just wish I knew then, what I know now about him! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
Excellent baseball book w/ oodles of interesting trivia about living in the 20s and 30s. ( )
  untraveller | Sep 30, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this terrific biography of baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Vernon (Lefty) Gomez that was written by his daughter. Normally, baseball biographies, especially of old-timers (Lefty quit playing in the 1940s and died in the late 1980s) are dry. Typically, little information is available to the author, outside of statistics, newspaper reports, and teammate remembrances, in rare cases.

However, this terrific biography is chock full of personal anecdotes and family stories. 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!! ( )
  lindapanzo | Dec 10, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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 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. ( )
  chuck_ralston | Jul 27, 2012 |
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For June and Lefty'l grandchildren: John, Andrew, Scott, Vernona Elizabeth, Jennifer, Serena, and Tiffany.
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On Saturday, August 4, 1962, 30,000 fans crowded into Candlestick Park inSan Francisco to see the Giants defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 - 5.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345526481, Hardcover)

A baseball legend distinguished by his competitive nature, quick wit, and generous spirit, Lefty Gomez was one of a kind. Told for the first time, this is his remarkable story.
 
Born to a small-town California ranching family, the youngest of eight, Vernon “Lefty” Gomez rode his powerful arm and jocular personality right across America to the dugout of the New York Yankees. Lefty baffled hitters with his blazing fastball, establishing himself as the team’s ace. He vacationed with Babe Ruth, served as Joe DiMaggio’s confidant, and consoled Lou Gehrig the day the “Iron Horse” removed himself from the lineup. He started and won the first-ever All-Star Game, was the first pitcher to make the cover of Time magazine, and barnstormed Japan as part of Major League Baseball’s grand ambassadorial tour in 1934. Away from the diamond, Lefty played the big-city bon vivant, marrying Broadway star June O’Dea and hobnobbing with a who’s who of celebrities, including George Gershwin, Jack Dempsey, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, George M. Cohan, and James Michener. He even scored a private audience with the pope.
 
And even when his pro ball career was done, Lefty wasn’t. He became a national representative for Wilson Sporting Goods, logging over 100,000 miles a year, spreading the word about America’s favorite game, and touching thousands of lives. In 1972 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Three baseball fields are named for him, and to this day the top honor bestowed each year by the American Baseball Coaches Association is the Lefty Gomez Award.
 
Now, drawing on countless conversations with Lefty, interweaving more than three hundred interviews conducted with his family, friends, competitors, and teammates over the course of a decade, and revealing candid photos, documents, and film clips—many never shown publicly—his daughter Vernona Gomez and her award-winning co-author Lawrence Goldstone vividly re-create the life and adventures of the irreverent southpaw fondly dubbed “El Señor Goofy.”
 
“I’d rather be lucky than good,” Lefty Gomez once quipped—one of many classic one-liners documented here. In the end he was both. A star-studded romp through baseball’s most glorious seasons and America’s most glamorous years, Lefty is at once a long-overdue reminder of a pitcher’s greatness and a heartwarming celebration of a life well-lived.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:56 -0400)

"A baseball legend distinguished by his competitive nature, quick wit, and generous spirit, Lefty Gomez was one of a kind. Told for the first time, this is his remarkable story. Born to a small-town California ranching family, the youngest of eight, Vernon "Lefty" Gomez rode his powerful arm and jocular personality right across America to the dugout of the New York Yankees. Lefty baffled hitters with his blazing fastball, establishing himself as the team's ace. He vacationed with Babe Ruth, served as Joe DiMaggio's confidant, and consoled Lou Gehrig the day the "Iron Horse" removed himself from the lineup. He started and won the first-ever All-Star Game, was the first pitcher to make the cover of Time magazine, and barnstormed Japan as part of Major League Baseball's grand ambassadorial tour in 1934. Away from the diamond, Lefty played the big-city bon vivant, marrying Broadway star June O'Dea and hobnobbing with a who's who of celebrities, including George Gershwin, Jack Dempsey, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, George M. Cohan, and James Michener. He even scored a private audience with the pope. And even when his pro ball career was done, Lefty wasn't. He became a national representative for Wilson Sporting Goods, logging over 100,000 miles a year, spreading the word about America's favorite game, and touching thousands of lives. In 1972 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Three baseball fields are named for him, and to this day the top honor bestowed each year by the American Baseball Coaches Association is the Lefty Gomez Award. Now, drawing on countless conversations with Lefty, interweaving more than three hundred interviews conducted with his family, friends, competitors, and teammates over the course of a decade, and revealing candid photos, documents, and film clips--many never shown publicly--his daughter Vernona Gomez and her award-winning co-author Lawrence Goldstone vividly re-create the life and adventures of the irreverent southpaw fondly dubbed "El S?eor Goofy." "I'd rather be lucky than good," Lefty Gomez once quipped--one of many classic one-liners documented here. In the end he was both. A star-studded romp through baseball's most glorious seasons and America's most glamorous years, Lefty is at once a long-overdue reminder of a pitcher's greatness and a heartwarming celebration of a life well-lived"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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