Frank "Lefty" O'Doul - San Francisco All Star

Frank, who died in Dec 7, 1969, Played Major League baseball as a pitcher and outfielder for 11 seasons (1919 to 1920, 1922 to 1923, 1928 to 1934) with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers. Lefty O’Doul can be looked at as the perfect example of how persistence pays off. Coming up as a pitcher in the late 1910s, he split much of his first few professional years as a stellar star in the Minor League Pacific Coast League, and as an ineffectual pitcher for the Yankees. In 1921 he won 25 games with the PCL San Francisco Seals, but did not win a single game in three stints with New York. Sent to the Red Sox for the 1923 season, he won 1 game and lost 1 in 23 appearances, mostly in relief, and was again ineffectual (in a July game against the Cleveland Indians, he gave up 16 runs -13 of which came in one inning, which still stands as the post-1900 record). His arm, overworked from pitching in the Minors, finally deadened on him, and he return to the Pacific Coast League as an outfielder. He then blossomed into a stellar hitter, hitting far over .300 in his next three Minor League campaigns. The New York Giants brought him back into the Bigs in 1928, and he didn’t disappoint, batting .319 in 114 games. Despite the hitting promise he finally showed, the Giants traded him to the Phillies in the off season for outfielder Freddy Leach, who was a more proven player. Lefty O’Doul then responded with the greatest hitting season in Phillies club history. Utilizing slugger Chuck Klein’s presence in the line up and batting in Philadelphia’s hitter-friendly Baker Bowl, he set the National League record for most hits in a season with 254, and led the League in batting with a .398 average. Additionally, he socked 32 home runs and drove in 122 RBIs. Equaled by the Giants Bill Terry the next year, his 254 hits stills stand as the NL single season record, as well as the Phillies team record (his .398 average still stands as a Phillies single season record as well). The next year his production dropped a bit – to a .383 batting average and 202 hits. Despite two fabulous seasons with the Phillies, he had the disadvantage of playing for a team with horrendous pitching and an ownership that used profits from the team to pay off gambling debts, rather then invest in building a winning team. The Phillies traded him in the 1930 off season to the Brooklyn Dodgers for a handful of marginal player and cash. He continued his late blooming hitting talent with the Dodgers, batting .338 in 1931 and .368 in 1932, which won him another Batting Title (and making him the first National League to win two batting titles with two different teams). In 1933 he struggled early on, which prompted the Dodgers to trade him and pitcher Watty Clark (who had won 20 games the year before) to the Giants for 1st baseman Sam Leslie on June 15. Chosen to be a member of the first National League All-Star team that year, he appeared as a pinch hitter in that inaugural Midsummer Classic. More significantly, he batted .306 for New York as they won the NL Pennant. In the World Series that followed against the Washington Senators, he only had a single at-bat, but he made it count. In the 6th inning of Game 2, with the score 1 to 0 in favor of the Senators, he hit a bases-loaded pinch single that knocked in two runs and was the catalyst for the Giants 6 to 1 victory. He rode the bench for the rest of the Series, but he still emerged a winner as the Giants handily downed Washington 4 Games to 1. His last year, 1934, saw him bat .319 in a handful of games, but at age 37, his brief but spectacular run was over, and he retired at the end of the season. His career totals were 970 Games Played, 1,140 Hits, 624 Runs, 113 Home Runs, 542 RBIs and a career .349 Batting Average. After his retirement he returned to his roots as the manager of the PCL Seals, where he oversaw the development of a stream of talented players (most notably Joe DiMaggio) that would find fame with the parent New York Yankees team. His friendly, affable ways made him a fan favorite, and he was well liked throughout the baseball world. Up into the 1950s he semiannually took All-Star teams to Hawaii and Japan to play exhibition games. He opened up “Lefty O' Doul’s” restaurant in Union Square, San Francisco, an establishment that still is popular today.

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