- November 26, 1908
- 6' 2"
- 173 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-29-1930 with NYA
- Allstar Selections:
- 1934 TC, 1937 TC
- Hall of Fame:
"No one hit home runs the way Babe did. They were something special. They were like homing pigeons. The ball would leave the bat, pause briefly, suddenly gain its bearings, then take off for the stands." - Lefty Gomez
Remembered mainly for his colorful personality, Lefty Gomez was also one of baseball's greatest winners, ranking third in Yankee history in regular-season wins with 189. His 6-0 World Series record gave him the most wins without a loss in World Series history. His three victories in All-Star Game competition (against one loss) also are a record.
Gomez's zaniness set him apart from the decorous Yankees of the 1930s. He once held up a World Series game, exasperating manager Joe McCarthy (as he did with some frequency), to watch an airplane pass by. Gomez got away with needling his buddy, Joe DiMaggio, because DiMaggio, like everyone else, enjoyed the Gomez wit, which produced such statements as: "I've got a new invention. It's a revolving bowl for tired goldfish."
The Yankees purchased Gomez from his hometown San Francisco Seals in 1929 for $35,000. Two years later he won 21 games for them. His smoking fastball belied his slender frame. He was a nail, with a whiplash arm and a high leg kick.
Gomez and righthander Red Ruffing formed the lefty-righty pitching core for the great New York teams of the 1930s. In 1934 he led the league in seven major categories, including wins (26), ERA (2.33), and strikeouts (158), the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown. He led the league again in the top three pitching categories in 1937.
Arm miseries hounded him throughout his career. As his fastball lost its effectiveness, Gomez moved from power pitcher to finesse pitcher. "I'm throwing as hard as I ever did," he quipped, "the ball's just not getting there as fast." Gomez fooled hitters and made a beautiful, slow curve work for him. He had a great comeback in 1941 (15-5) after a 3-3 mark in 1940, leading the league in winning percentage (.750).
Gomez threw a shutout in 1941 while issuing 11 walks, the most walks ever allowed in a shutout. And though a notoriously poor hitter, he produced the first RBI in All-Star history and singled home the winning run in the 1937 World Series clincher.
After pitching one game for Washington (he lost) in 1943, Gomez retired, later to hook up with the Wilson sporting goods company as a goodwill ambassador. He was asked on joining Wilson why he had left his last position. Gomez, who never took himself seriously, responded that he left because he couldn't "get the side out."
"No one hit home runs the way Babe (Ruth) did. They were something special. They were like homing pigeons. The ball would leave the bat, pause briefly, suddenly gain its bearings, then take off for the stands."
I was the worst hitter ever. I never even broke a bat until last year when I was backing out of the garage.
I'd rather be lucky than good.
I'm the guy that made Joe DiMaggio famous.
I've got a new invention. It's a revolving bowl for tired goldfish.
If you don't throw it, they can't hit it.
No one hit home runs the way Babe did. They were something special. They were like homing pigeons. The ball would leave the bat, pause briefly, suddenly gain its bearings, then take off for the stands.
The secret of my success was clean living and a fast outfield.
Quotes About Gomez:
"4-time 20-game winner with NY Yankees; holds World Series record for most wins (6) without a defeat; pitched on 5 world championship clubs in 1930s." - InfoPlease
"Gomez's zaniness set him apart from the decorous Yankees of the 1930s. He once held up a World Series game, exasperating manager Joe McCarthy (as he did with some frequency), to watch an airplane pass by." - Writer Mark Gomez
"It is hard to judge whether Vernon Gomez is better known as the fire-throwing left-hander of the successful Yankees teams of the 1930s, or as the man that made clowning around the diamond famous. 'El Goofo' as he was called in his native tongue, pitched his way into five World Series. He set a record in World Series competition by recording six consecutive victories without a loss. Over his 14-year career, he won 20 games four times, led the league in wins twice, and won the American League strikeout title three times. In 1972, Lefty joined many of his teammates from the Yankees in baseball’s Hall of Fame." - Estate of Lefty Gomez (2003)
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