Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ed's Sports Corner

Let’s Get Lefty in the Hall of Fame!

I went to Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant the other day, ordered an O’Doul’s and sat down to interview Tom O’Doul, Lefty’s cousin. Is that triple déjà vu or what? Right now, there is a movement to get Lefty elected to the Hall of Fame. The Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to people who were ambassadors to the game and have promoted the game of baseball during their lifetime. Frank "Lefty" O'Doul did this and was certainly an ambassador, mentor and promoter of the game during his lifetime. If you would like to help in our letter writing campaign to induct Frank "Lefty" O'Doul into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, please send letters to: BUCK O'NEIL LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM, 25 MAIN STREET, COOPERSTOWN, NY 13326-1330.

If you’re not familiar with Lefty, here are his stats—11 seasons, .349 lifetime batting average, averaged 91 RBI and 190 hits each season and led the National League in batting average twice, in 1929 and 1932. Here are some excerpts from my recent interview with Tom O’Doul:

Benefits of a famous cousin: One story I love to relate is that Lefty always came to my opening days when I was playing Little League. In 1954, opening day was approaching and my dad told me, “Cousin Frank’s coming to your opener.” And I thought, that’s cool. So he shows up in a Cadillac with Joe DiMaggio. I’ll never forget the moment, because everyone’s mouth just dropped and stay opened. There was a buzz in the air. But, they were gone five minutes later. I lived off that moment for the next five years, at least.”

Lefty’s early days: “He never made it past the 7th grade and he would always push me to finish school. He had to drop out to work as a butcher. His father, his grandfather and his uncles were all butchers. If he hadn’t made it as a baseball player, he would have been a butcher.”

His relationships with other great players: “Lefty got along with everyone, including Ty Cobb, which wasn’t easy from what I heard. He loved Babe Ruth and they spent a lot of time together. They both had that great sense of humor, so that’s probably why they got along so well.”

The world famous Lefty O’ Doul’s Bloody Mary: “It’s from an original O’Doul family recipe and they’ve served it there since day one. The O’Doul’s drug of choice has always been alcohol. Lefty drank bourbon and water and beer. My uncle loved being in bars and talking to people in bars, so opening his own restaurant/bar in his hometown was a logical progression.”

Why Lefty loved Japanese baseball so much: “Probably because the way they played the game. I think he liked the purity of it. He appreciated their dedication to the game. And they were extremely pleased to learn from the “Great American”. Lefty was the one who brought Babe Ruth to Japan. They were dying to see Babe and he brought them on his first tour there in 1934. He did three tours to Japan total—in ’31, ’34 and ’49. In 2002, Lefty was chosen to be in the Japanese Baseball of Fame.

Harding Park Hits the Top Muni’s List at #10

Harding Park was recently named #10 on GolfWeek magazine’s annual list of the 50 Best Municipal Courses in the country. Harding Park’s Manager Rodney Wilson is obviously pleased to be on the coveted list and cites several reasons why his course scored so high, he said. “People say playing golf is expensive, but if you can compare it to attending other sporting events, it’s very reasonable. We have rates like $46 per round for SF residents who play during the week and seniors who can play for as little as $31 at certain times. We renovated the course in 2003 and it’s in great shape. We’ve hosted several pro tournaments and we’re going to have the Charles Schwab Cup Championship here this year and in 2011. If the pros play here, that must tell you something.”

Ask a Bartender

The World Cup is happening this month, so we searched for those bartenders who really know their soccer. Each of these mixologists discussed which teams they feel will contend and/or pretend when the world’s finest convenes in South Africa.

Mike English, Perry’s on Union: “I’ll give you four teams I like in order: 1.) France 2.) Britain 3.) Germany 4.) Argentina. I believe you’ll find the eventual champion from that list.”

Kevin Corrigan, The Blue Light Cafe: “Soccer’s not my game, but our cook Hugo Bustamante knows his stuff. Hugo’s picks are Spain vs. Argentina in the Final, but watch out for surprise teams like Paraguay and Portugal.”

Derek Brennan, Mad Dog in the Fog: “Spain has to be the favorite. Other teams that should contend are Brazil, Argentina and Holland. Brazil is absolutely loaded with talent and they should go far. Wild cards are Denmark and Ivory Coast. I’d actually like to see an African nation win the World Cup, because I like their attacking styles.”

Neil Holbrook, Kezar Club: “Spain is the favorite and usually the favorites win in the World Cup. They’ve got tons of experience, but the way the draw ends up can be a factor. Italy can also be very good. Honestly, as long as Britain doesn’t win it, I’ll be happy!”

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