Ferkovich: Lefty O’Doul, a San Francisco institution

From SABR member Scott Ferkovich at The National Pastime Museum on February 2, 2015:

Lefty O’Doul is an institution in San Francisco, the city of his birth and of his greatest success as a minor league manager. And he was one of the men most responsible for promoting professional baseball in Japan. But O’Doul’s legacy, at least regarding his place in the pantheon of the game’s greatest players, is often overlooked.

O’Doul’s detractors will point out his inadequacies. His career was too short, they will say. He played his home games in bandboxes that padded his left-handed-hitting statistics. His best years were in the late 1920s and early ’30s, when a jackrabbit baseball powered a league-wide high-octane offense of historic proportions. He was an atrocious fielder with a poor throwing arm. He was a carouser who didn’t take the game seriously enough.

Each of these arguments has an element of truth, to a greater or lesser extent. Certainly, O’Doul couldn’t argue the last point. “I was no angel,” he admitted.

Had he played today, he would have been an ideal designated hitter. Bob Stevens of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “He could run like a deer. Unfortunately, he threw like one, too.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/lefty-odoul

Originally published: February 3, 2015. Last Updated: February 3, 2015.