Like many of the baseball fans out there, I have heard of Lefty O'Doul before. But I didn't know what he really did for baseball until I listened to a podcast on Sparkletack, Lefty O'Doul - the man in the green suit. O'Doul grew up in San Francisco and went on to bigger and better things, but never forgetting his hometown by the bay.
He started his career as a pitcher for the San Francisco Seals before being drafted by the New York Yankees. But he didn't do much there as a pitcher and was sold to the Boston Red Sox's, but after four years his career as a pitcher was done. But he made a good friend on the Yankees that he kept for a lifetime, Babe Ruth.
But he resurrected his career as a hitter, something that he already could do, but the Yankees never gave him the chance. He came back to the major leagues five years later and tore up the league finishing after another seven years with a career batting average of .349. That even included a year where he batter .398.
Not only did he do well in baseball here, but he was an ambassador of the game to Japan. He was given the title, "Father of Japanese Baseball." He would go over there, the first time in 1931, and spend time with them, teaching them the game. He even arranged for tours of Japanese teams to the United States.
O'Doul was quite devastated when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and was over in Japan soon after the war ended trying to get baseball started again, sponsoring games with the American soldiers there.
Williams emulated O'Doul's swing and took some advice to not let people change his swing. He coached DiMaggio when DiMaggio was growing up in San Francisco and playing on the sandlots. DiMaggio also played for him on the Seals and O'Doul was one of the few people at the wedding of DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.
He finished his career as a manager of the San Francisco Seals, even putting himself in some games to pinch-hit.
O'Doul deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not only for his play as a baseball player, but because he was an ambassador of the game to Japan.
He should be placed in the Hall of Fame for all his contributions to the game. Baseball needs to recognize this most deserving player.
You can read more in an article I read for this post in the San Francisco Chronicle, "O'Doul's legacy, and Hall of Fame hopes, alive".