March 4 – Happy Birthday Lefty O’Doul

Francis Joseph O’Doul began his pro baseball career as a southpaw pitcher with the New York Yankees in 1919. He failed to win or lose a game in three partial seasons with New York and then hurt his left arm, pitching for the Red Sox in 1923. He spent the next five years in the minors converting himself into an every day player. He resurfaced with the New York Giants in 1928, hitting .319 as a 31-year old second-time rookie. Unfortunately, O’Doul’s defensive skills in the outfield did not match his hitting prowess and New York traded him to Philadelphia after that season. What a mistake that turned out to be for the Giants. All O’Doul did for the Phillies in 1929 was win the NL batting title with an incredible .398 average and a league-leading 254 hits. He belted 32 home runs, drove in 122 and scored 152 times himself and finished second in that year’s MVP voting to the immortal Rogers Hornsby. O’Doul had another great year in 1930, averaging .383 but the Phillies finished 40 games out of first place. Lefty’s defense was still dreadful however, and the Phillies needed pitching so they dealt O’Doul to Brooklyn for a couple of hurlers, a replacement outfielder and some much needed cash. During O’Douls three years with Brooklyn, he averaged .340 and won his second NL batting title with a .368 average in 1932. During the 33 season, he was traded back to the Giants and got the opportunity to play in the only World Series of his career.  By then he was 36-years old and losing his hitting skills. He retired the following year and went back to his native San Francisco to manage the Seals, in the Pacific Coast League.

Lefty died in 1969. He shares a birthday with this other star from the 1920s and ’30s who like O’Doul, was known by his nickname and made brief appearances as a Yankee, early in his career.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1919 NYY 19 17 16 2 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 .250 .294 .250 .544
1920 NYY 13 13 12 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 .167 .231 .250 .481
1922 NYY 8 9 9 0 3 1 0 0 4 0 0 2 .333 .333 .444 .778
11 Yrs 970 3658 3264 624 1140 175 41 113 542 36 333 122 .349 .413 .532 .945
NYG (3 yrs) 275 848 760 125 239 32 8 26 127 12 77 32 .314 .380 .480 .860
BRO (3 yrs) 325 1394 1266 219 431 69 20 33 186 18 113 42 .340 .399 .505 .904
NYY (3 yrs) 40 39 37 4 9 2 0 0 6 1 2 5 .243 .282 .297 .579
PHI (2 yrs) 294 1338 1166 274 456 72 13 54 219 5 139 40 .391 .460 .614 1.074
BOS (1 yr) 36 39 35 2 5 0 0 0 4 0 2 3 .143 .189 .143 .332
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/21/2014.

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