Lefty, An American Odyssey
It was quite an entertaining and informative evening at the Bergino Clubhouse yesterday as Vernona Gomez, the author of “LEFTY An American Odyssey,” about her father, Hall of Fame pitcher Vernon “Lefty” Gomez, talked about the book and her father’s life. The book is published by Ballantine Books. (Right there is a good association of a great Yankees’ pitcher and thoughts of Ballantine beer, a long time sponsor on Yankees’ broadcasts.)
Ms. Gomez, herself a concert pianist and the daughter of Broadway headliner June O’Dea, has amazing recall and used it in choosing the information and stories gathered in over 350 interviews conducted with Lefty Gomez’ friends, teammates and opposing players. Gomez played on Yankees’ teams with the three greatest Yankees and arguably the three greatest players ever in Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe Di Maggio. Ms. Gomez bounced on The Babe’s knee, her dad helped console Gehrig when he finally missed a game due to the illness that soon would take his life, and was a confidant to Di Maggio, at times dining out with Joe and his second wife, Marilyn Monroe.
Vernona Gomez is a personable, striking looking woman who took the audience through history, not just baseball history, in talking about her father. Lefty Gomez saw his first game when he made the big leagues. He made it there and eventually to the baseball “Hall” with determination, ability and yes luck. He once said “I would rather be lucky than good” and he was the “Yankee quipper” juxtaposed with his roomate, Joe Di Maggio, known as the “Yankee Clipper.”
Ms. Gomez’s show business background so impressed an audience member that he asked if the fact Lefty had married into a show business family and had produced Vernona, a concert pianist who performed at age seven, if that was the reason Di Maggio married actress, Marilyn Monroe. Vernona replied “You have seen what Marilyn Monroe looked like? I think that and Marilyn’s charm persuaded Joe without thinking about Lefty and his situation.” It was quite an evening and Vernona Gomez is quite a lady. I look forward to reading the book, “LEFTY An American Odyssey” by Vernona Gomez and award winning writer, Lawrence Goldstone.