Lefty Gomez’s Biggest Day!

189 Wins, 102 Losses, 3.34 ERA; Inducted into the HOF in 1972.

As a tall and gangly built  left-handed flame-thrower, Lefty Gomez was one of those rarified pitchers who helped the New York Yankees bridge their way from the Babe Ruth to the Joe DiMaggio eras. He toiled for the Yankees from 1930 through 1942 and then wrapped up his career with the 1943 Washington Senators. Over his career, he was selected to the first American League All Star Team and also was named to seven all-star clubs in seven consecutive years from 1933 to 1939. As a Yankee, he got to taste the sweet joy of playing for five World Series Champions in 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.

Lefty was also a true character who loved the company of fellow Yankees who also embraced the gliiter and brew of the night life action and still managed to override the effects of bad habits with their superior talent the next day at the ballpark. Lefty joked that he was “like” the old whiskey soaker who could never quite recall his wife’s final instructions before he left the house for a night on the town with the boys.

“I could never remember if she said ‘have one drink and be home by 12 – or 12 drinks and be home by 1,'” Lefty quipped.

Gomez also had the the same glib sense of humor  for what happened on the field. Once, in a late afternoon game in which Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians was striking out Yankees left and right. Lefty came to bat against Rapid Robert as the sun was going down. Before Lefty stepped in to hit, he lit a match in the batter’s box and stared out at Feller. The umpire asked if Lefty was hoping the match would help him see where the ball was crossing the plate. “Nope,” Lefty answered, “I’m just hoping the match helps Feller see where  I am!” Then, once the laughter subsided and the match burned out, Gomez stood there in the gathering darkness of the batter’s box and struck out like nearly everyone else before him.

Lefty Gomez says his biggest day in baseball occurred in Game Two of the 1932 World Series at Yankee stadium in which he scattered nine hits to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 5-2, in a complete game victory. Lefty had far better, more artistic wins  over time, but he chose this special-for-the-team game of  September 29, 1932, for what it was – his first first World Series victory at age 23. He got no second chance to pitch in ’32 because the Yankees needed only four games to dispose of the Cubs, That was also the Series in which Babe Ruth supposedly “called his shot” prior to a game-winning homer to center at Wrigley Field.

Lefty Gomez kept his quick wit for the rest of his life. He left us on February 17, 1980 at the age of 80.  Thanks for being one of the bright lights of the game, Lefty Gomez. You will always be one of those guys I wish I’d been privilieged to have watched play in person.

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