Teams: New York Yankees, 1930-1942; Washington Senators 1943
Once Lefty Gomez was asked why they called him “Goofy.” He said: “I’m something like the Old Soak who never knew whether his wife told him to take one drink and come home at 12, or take 12 and come home at one.” He was a top pitcher for the 1930s Yankees and was at his best in the big games.
Gomez coined the line, "I'd rather be
lucky than good."
Vernon Louis Gomez (1908-1989) was born in Rodeo, California. At a slim 6'2", 150 pounds in high school, he was a fireballing lefty. The San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League signed him in 1928 and optioned him to Salt Lake in the Utah-Idaho League, where he went 12-14. Pitching for San Francisco in 1929, he was 18-11 and led the league with a 3.44 ERA.
The Yankees bought Gomez in 1929, and it took Lefty two years to become a winner. Gomez knew the value of playing for a powerhouse (his secret to success was “clean living and a fast outfield”), but he was capable of smothering teams on his own, as the possessor of a wicked fastball and a fine curve.
Although he was plagued by arm ailments throughout his career, he changed his style and repertoire of pitches as he got older, perfecting a baffling slow curveball. He compiled a career 189-102 win-loss record.
Although his career is interspersed with mediocre seasons, he was the top winner on the Yanks in six of his 10 full seasons with them, and twice led the league in wins and ERA. In 1934 he was 26-5, leading the league in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts, and complete games.
In 1932, when the Yankees finally broke through against the Athletics, who had won three straight pennants, Gomez won 24 games and beat Philadelphia seven times, a spectacular clutch performance.
Gomez has the greatest World Series record in history, with six wins and no losses and five championship rings. He also won a record three All-Star games while losing just one.
When Joe DiMaggio was a rookie in 1936, he played a very shallow center field. When Gomez advised his rookie roommate to play deeper, DiMaggio said, “Don’t worry. I’m going to make them forget about the great Tris Speaker.” After an opponent tripled over DiMaggio’s head, Gomez said to him, “Roomie, if you don’t back up a little, you’re going to make them forget about the great Lefty Gomez.”
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972, Lefty continued to delight fans as a broadcaster. After his heart operation in 1980, he said “Just had a triple bypass operation. Only triple I ever got.”
Here are Lefty Gomez's major league totals:
|W||L ||ERA ||G ||CG ||IP ||H ||ER ||BB ||SO |
|189||102 ||3.34 ||368 ||173||2,503 ||2,290 ||929||1,095 ||1,468 |
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