03 April 2010

Francis Joseph "Lefty" O'Doul

Lefty began his career in the minor leagues as a pitcher for the San Francisco Seals and from 1919-1923 played for both the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants. His arm began to give him problems so he was returned to the minor leagues where he converted himself to a power hitting outfielder. He was resigned to the New York Giants as a Platoon Player where he went on to bat .319. O'Doul was traded in 1929 to the Philadelphia Phillies where he won a batting title for hitting .398 with 254 hits, 32 home runs, 122 runs batted in, and 152 runs scored. In 1932 he won another title while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Lefty ended his playing career where it started with the New York Giants in 1934. Then in 1937 Lefty signed to be the manager of the San Francisco Seals minor league team. He stayed there from 1937 to 1951 before going on to manage several other minor league teams. Although Lefty wouldn't take credit for it he was involved with the development of another famous baseball player by the name of Joe DiMaggio . Lefty simply said "I was just smart enough to leave him alone." Lefty was also instrumental in making baseball popular in Japan and even named the Tokyo Giants after his old team back home. He was the ambassador for baseball before and after WWII. Although Lefty is gone the restaurant and bar he founded is not. It can still be found on Geary St. in San Francisco serving Lefty's original Bloody Mary recipe. It is said that the original bartender from 1960 is still employed there. I had been by the place a million times but never actually went in. I guess I'll have to save it for my next trip. Lefty now rests at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, CA. A great addition to my collection of baseball greats. And a great piece of San Francisco history.


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