A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Lefty O’Doul

Lefty O'Doul while with Brooklyn

Lefty O’Doul while with Brooklyn

1. He was born Francis Joseph O’Doul in 1897 in San Francisco.

2. In 1912 he played for his school team, whose coach was female. O’Doul credited her with teaching him fundamentals of the game. The next year he dropped out of school to work with his father as a butcher.

3. Playing semipro ball on Sundays brought him to the attention of the San Francisco Seals minor league team. He signed as a pitcher in 1917.

4. After a stint in the Navy in World War I, O’Doul was picked up by the Yankees in 1919. He played for them in 1919 and 1920, did little, and was sent back to San Francisco for 1921.

5. In 1922 he was back with the Yankees, Again he didn’t do much and was sent to Boston. With the Red Sox he did pick up his only pitching win in 1923 (He was 1-1 for his career).

6. He spent 1924-1927 in the minors. He hurt his arm and became a fulltime outfielder. Much of the 1924-27 period was spent trying to learn how to field.

7. In 1928 he was picked up by the Giants, hit .319 with little power and was traded to the Phillies.

8. He won his first batting title (.398) in 1929. He remained with Philadelphia one more year, hit .383, and was traded to Brooklyn where he stayed into 1933 when he was traded back to the Giants. While in Brooklyn he won a second batting title (.368)

9. He platooned some in left field for the pennant winning New York team. That got him into his only World Series, a Giants victory. He batted once, singled, drove in two runs, and later scored.

10.His last big league year was 1934. He hit .316 and left the Major Leagues with a .349 average and an OPS+ of 143 in 970 games.

11. He left the Giants to manage the Seals in his hometown. He stayed manager through 1951 winning pennant in 1935, 1943, ’44, ’45, and 1946. He remained a minor league manager through 1957, then became a hitting instructor for the Giants, now located in San Francisco. He also spent significant time in Japan promoting baseball there.

12. In retirement he opened a bar (Lefty O’Doul’s) which is still open in San Francisco. One source calls it the oldest sport’s bar in the US (although some spots on the East Coast might argue the point).

13. He died in 1969 and has never gotten much support for the Hall of Fame (His vote total peaked at 16.7% in 1960).

O'Doul's tombstone

O’Doul’s tombstone

The sentiment reads “He was here at a good time and had a good time while he was here.” (not a bad epitaph)


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7 Responses to “A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Lefty O’Doul”

  1. William Miller Says:

    That’s a great epitaph!
    I guess it depends on how you define “sports.” Some might say that men chasing women is the very first sport. If that’s the case, then there must be a bar somewhere in New England or the Mid-Atlantic states far older than Lefties.

  2. Brian Mino Says:

    Do you know where i can get a hold of any Roy Campanella baseball cards?

  3. garlicfriesandbaseball Says:

    Reblogged this on Garlicfriesandbaseball's Blog and commented:
    The title of this blog caught my eye – I’m a fan of anything Giants and Lefty definitely qualifies. I’ve been to Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant in San Francisco many times. I’d liken it to a great little Jewish Deli as far as the great corned beef and pastrami goes, and the photographs on the wall are probably comparable in numbers and value to Mickey Mantle’s restaurant in New York. This baker’s dozen was fun to read but wish it were longer. I wanted it to go on and on. Thanks for writing it ~ Good read!

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