‘There Are Very Few Individuals as Fascinating as Lefty O’Doul’
Lefty O’Doul had an extraordinary baseball career. Blessed with blazing speed and preternatural hitting ability, O’Doul nonetheless failed to stick in the majors until the age of 31. It was partially his own fault: Despite repeated entreaties by coaches, managers and teammates to focus his attention on hitting, O’Doul insisted he was a pitcher, not the man who would eventually retire with a .349 lifetime batting average (fourth-best of all-time).
After his playing days came to a close, O’Doul was appointed “Manager for Life” of the legendary San Francisco Seals (a position he held for 17 years); established a reputation as the best (and most cerebral) hitting instructor in the game; and, through sheer force of will and personality, did more than any other person to promote baseball in Japan, where it remains a national obsession (and where O’Doul is still revered).
With Lefty O’Doul: Baseball’s Forgotten Ambassador, author Dennis Snelling has written the definitive biography of one of baseball’s greatest personalities. It’s a book worthy of its subject.The following interview with Snelling was conducted via email.