Lefty O'Doul: Baseball’s Forgotten Ambassador

LEFTY O'DOUL                                             DENNIS SNELLING

Lefty O’Doul (1897–1969) began his career on the sandlots of San Francisco and was drafted by the Yankees as a pitcher. Although an arm injury and his refusal to give up the mound clouded his first four years, he converted into an outfielder. After four Minor League seasons he returned to the Major Leagues to become one of the game’s most prolific power hitters, retiring with the fourth-highest lifetime batting average in Major League history. A self-taught “scientific” hitter, O’Doul then became the game’s preeminent hitting instructor, counting Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams as his top disciples.

In 1931 O’Doul traveled to Japan with an All-Star team and later convinced Babe Ruth to headline a 1934 tour. By helping to establish the professional game in Japan, he paved the way for Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, and Hideki Matsui to play in the American Major Leagues. O’Doul’s finest moment came in 1949, when General Douglas MacArthur asked him to bring a baseball team to Japan, a tour that MacArthur later praised as one of the greatest diplomatic efforts in U.S. history.

O’Doul became one of the most successful managers in the Pacific Coast League and was instrumental in spreading baseball’s growth and popularity in Japan. He is still beloved in Japan, where in 2002 he was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

PAT'S REVIEW

This book is about a baseball player that I had never heard about but when he when he retired he left with a .349 batting avg. He was born in San Francisco and grew up there and played minor league ball with the Pacific Seals. He started out as a pitcher and would make it the big leagues as one. From 1919 to 1923 he would pitch in the big leagues until injured. He then went back to the Seals and worked at becoming an outfielder and hitter. In 27 in the Pacific league he hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases, and in 28 was back in the majors. He would win the 1929 and 1932 batting titles. He then went back to San Fran and coached the Seals from 1935-1951 and was the coach when DiMaggio came through but did not take any credit. Just said was smart enough to leave him alone. He also became very instrumental in bringing baseball to Japan when he first went in 31 and then went back in 34 and brought Babe Ruth with him. In 35 he named the Tokyo Giants after his longtime association with them and their uniforms are similar. This was a very good book about a baseball player I never heard about. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

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