cover image Lefty: An American Odyssey

Lefty: An American Odyssey

Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone. Ballantine, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-345-52648-9

Vernon “Lefty” Gomez was a stalwart pitcher for the dominant New York Yankee teams of the 1930s. The son of an illiterate rancher from rural California adapted quickly to the city and was “named to New York’s best-dressed list” within two years of joining the Yankees. Although overshadowed by the offensive juggernauts of teammates Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio, Gomez was a significant factor in the Yankees’ success. He was the American League’s starting pitcher in five of the first seven All-Star games and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. His daughter, Vernona, relies on testimonials from relatives, friends, teammates, and Lefty himself to produce an anecdotal biography of the man known as “El Goofo.” While paying homage to her father, she doesn’t shy from the darker periods such as her parents highly publicized separation and Lefty’s later bout with alcoholism. Coauthor Goldstone (The Anatomy of Deception) blends the abundant testimonials with biographical data, baseball lore and history, and American history to provide a glimpse of a bygone era through Gomez’s life. Photos. (May)