36: Lefty O'Doul-MLB

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Not only is Lefty O’Doul one of baseball’s forgotten heroes, he is actually one of America’s forgotten heroes as well. In fact, General Douglas MacArthur said what O’Doul did after World War II to help ease tensions between the U.S. and Japan was one of the greatest acts of diplomacy in the history of the U.S. O’Doul is one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball as his .349 career batting average can attest to as it’s the 4th highest ever, his 1929 season is one of the greatest ever – a .398 average and an NL record 254 hits. But O’Doul wanted to make it as a pitcher and he wasted away on the bench of the New York Yankees and later the Boston Red Sox while trying to figure out how to get Major League hitters out. In the minors with the San Francisco Seals of the PCL, he met with great success as a pitcher. But it just didn’t translate to the majors. Finally, O’Doul took the advice of the Salt Lake City Bees, a team he played for in the mid 1920s and focused solely on hitting. When he finally got called up to the New York Giants for the 1928 season he broke through hitting .319 and followed that with his incredible 1929 season. But O’Doul only played six full seasons because when he finally made it he was already 33. Nonetheless, his contributions to the game, particularly in Japan earned his enshrinement into Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame. Author Dennis Snelling who wrote the book, “Lefty O’Doul: Baseball’s Forgotten Ambassador” joins the podcast for a terrific look back on one of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes.

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