Championship Thinking in Sports

Jim Meier

Championship Thinking in Sports – Lefty Gomez: Serious Competitor, Tonic of the Team, ‘El Señor Goofy’ and Nice Guy

In my sports psychology teaching and coaching work, I relentlessly seek educational tools that will best assist my clients. Recently I found a great one about the legendary Hall of Fame pitcher, Lefty Gomez. The book, Lefty: An American Odyssey now has a permanent place in my professional tool kit. It is a gift; deeply meaningful, laugh-filled enjoyable and a richly instructive life success story. The authors are Vernona Gomez*, Lefty’s oldest child and Lawrence Goldstone**. Lefty takes you through the fully-lived life of Yankee All-Star and Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez, ’30-’42. You learn about Lefty as a boy in Rodeo, CA, amateur and minor league pitcher, member of 5 Yankee World Series team, 7 time All-Star, husband to Broadway star, June O’Dea, father of four children, USO entertainer for troops during WWII and successful sales career with Wilson Sporting Goods Company. It is fair to say that Lefty Gomez was baseball’s premier ambassador and most unique wise cracking personality and storyteller. He worked tirelessly for baseball from amateur to collegiate to pro ball on the banquet circuit as a motivational speaker, doing 100,000 miles every year for 40 years. This unparalleled commitment to bring the game to the kids of the day was the major focus throughout his life. So doing, he touched thousands of lives across and beyond America. It is no surprise that the Lefty Gomez award annually given by the American Baseball Coaches Association is its highest honor. Lefty is destined to be a classic because of its in-their-own-word realism. The book is loaded with tales, stories and anecdotes woven by quotes from Lefty, June and 350 people Vernona interviewed. When reading Lefty wearing my baseball glasses, I felt box-seat-close to Lefty, Ruth, Gehrig, Rizzuto, Dickey, DiMaggio and other players on his Yankee teams and their competitors as well as club owners, managers, fans and boys in the dugout. Wearing wider angle social lenses, I felt like a guest at parties, shows and dinners with celebrities the likes of George Gershwin, Jack Dempsey, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, George M. Cohan and James Michener, and with all the family and scores of friends. In this show, Vernona shares personal insights behind some of the book’s hundreds of stories. She and Lawrence brought Lefty close to us in print. With Vernona, I bring him even closer to you. Be prepared to be showered with Lefty’s competitive nature, quick wit, generous heart and ability to raise the spirit of his teammates. *Concert pianist and owner of the Creative Coaching Music Studio in Southport, CT. ** author or co-author of 14 books and winner of New American Writing Award.