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Lefty Gomez

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Full Name: Vernon Louis Gomez Primary Position: P
Height/Weight: 6' 2"/173 First Game: April 29, 1930
Birthdate: November 26, 1908 Final Game: May 30, 1943
Birthplace: Rodeo, California MLB Experience: 14 years
Died: February 17, 1989
Deathplace: Greenbrae, California
Bat/Throw: Left/Left
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Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972


Biography

Vernon Louis Gómez (November 26, 1908 in Rodeo, California - February 17, 1989 in Greenbrae, California) was a left-handed Major League pitcher who played in the American League for the New York Yankees between 1930 and 1942.

In his career, almost entirely spent with the Yankees, he had a 189-102 record with 1468 strikeouts and a 3.34 ERA in 2503 innings pitched. His contract was sold to the Boston Braves in 1943. Released by the Braves that year without appearing in a game, Gomez signed with the Washington Senators, but pitched only one game before being released to end his career.

Gomez was known for saying, "I'd rather be lucky than good." His stats show he was both. A 20-game winner four times and an All-Star every year from 1933 to 1939, Gómez led the league twice each in wins, winning percentage and ERA, and three times each in shutouts and strikeouts. In both 1934 and 1937, he won pitching's "Triple Crown" by leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts; he also led the AL both seasons in shutouts. His .649 career winning percentage ranks 15th in major league history among pitchers with 200 or more decisions; and among pitchers who made their ML debut from 1900–1950, only Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson and Whitey Ford have both more victories and a higher winning percentage than Gomez.

Gómez set a pair of World Series records: winning six games without a loss (1932-1, 1936-2, 1937-2, 1938-1); and most walks received by a batter in the same inning (6th, on October 6, 1937).

In the historic first major league All-Star Game (July 6, 1933), Gómez not only was the winning pitcher for the American League, but also drove in the first run of the game. This was out of character for him, as he was, even by the standards of pitchers, notorious for poor hitting. "I never broke a bat until I was 73 years old," he said. "And that was from backing the car out of the garage."

In retirement, Gómez became a sought-after dinner speaker known for his humorous anecdotes about his playing days and the personalities he knew. He was a bit of a screwball, nicknamed "El Goofy", and delighted in playing practical jokes on everyone from team mates to umpires. He once stopped a World Series game to watch an airplane fly overhead. He came up with the idea of a revolving goldfish bowl to make life easier for older goldfish. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1972, on August 2, 1987, he and Whitey Ford were honored with plaques to be placed in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Gómez's plaque says he was "Noted for his wit and his fastball, as he was fast with a quip and a pitch." Despite advancing age, he was able to attend the ceremony. Although he was honored with the plaque, his uniform #11 has not been retired, and has since been worn by Joe Page, Johnny Sain, Hector Lopez, Fred Stanley, Dwight Gooden, Chuck Knoblauch and Gary Sheffield. In 1999, he ranked #73 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Statistics

Pitching Stats

Year Team G GS W L ERA K R ER CG SHO SV IP H HR BB IB WP HBP
1930 NY A 15 6 2 5 5.55 22 41 37 2 0 1 60 66 12 28 0 0 1
1931 NY A 40 26 21 9 2.67 150 88 72 17 1 3 243 206 7 85 0 1 4
1932 NY A 37 31 24 7 4.21 176 140 124 21 1 1 265.1 266 23 105 0 0 2
1933 NY A 35 30 16 10 3.18 163 108 83 14 4 2 234.2 218 16 106 0 6 0
1934 NY A 38 33 26 5 2.33 158 86 73 25 6 1 281.2 223 12 96 0 3 0
1935 NY A 34 30 12 15 3.18 138 104 87 15 2 1 246 223 18 86 0 8 2
1936 NY A 31 30 13 7 4.39 105 104 92 10 0 0 188.2 184 6 122 0 2 1
1937 NY A 34 34 21 11 2.33 194 88 72 25 6 0 278.1 233 10 93 0 2 1
1938 NY A 32 32 18 12 3.35 129 110 89 20 4 0 239 239 7 99 0 5 1
1939 NY A 26 26 12 8 3.41 102 80 75 14 2 0 198 173 11 84 0 3 3
1940 NY A 9 5 3 3 6.59 14 20 20 0 0 0 27.1 37 2 18 0 3 1
1941 NY A 23 23 15 5 3.74 76 76 65 8 2 0 156.1 151 10 103 0 5 1
1942 NY A 13 13 6 4 4.28 41 42 38 2 0 0 80 67 4 65 0 1 2
1943 WAS A 1 1 0 1 5.79 0 4 3 0 0 0 4.2 4 0 5 0 0 0
Total 368 320 189 102 3.34 1468 1091 930 173 28 9 2503 2290 138 1095 0 39 19

Fielding Stats

Year Team POS G GS INN PO A ERR DP TP PB SB CS PkO AVG
1930 NY A P 15 0 0 1 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1931 NY A P 40 0 0 6 43 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .980
1932 NY A P 37 0 0 2 36 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 .950
1933 NY A P 35 0 0 4 30 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .895
1934 NY A P 38 0 0 7 42 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 .980
1935 NY A P 34 0 0 6 49 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 .965
1936 NY A P 31 0 0 4 29 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 .971
1937 NY A P 34 0 0 3 36 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .929
1938 NY A P 32 0 0 12 51 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 .984
1939 NY A P 26 0 0 2 33 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .972
1940 NY A P 9 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1941 NY A P 23 0 0 6 11 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 .895
1942 NY A P 13 0 0 2 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .917
1943 WAS A P 1 0 0 0 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .800
Total P 368 0 0 56 393 20 20 0 0 0 0 0 .957

Batting Stats

Year Team G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B BB SO HBP SH SB IBB GDP
1930 NY A 15 20 1 3 0 1 .150 .150 .150 0 0 0 9 0 3 0 0 0
1931 NY A 40 83 8 11 0 3 .133 .200 .133 0 0 7 28 0 4 0 0 0
1932 NY A 37 104 9 18 0 15 .173 .218 .192 2 0 6 36 0 5 0 0 0
1933 NY A 35 80 3 9 0 3 .112 .193 .112 0 0 7 23 1 5 0 0 0
1934 NY A 38 99 8 13 0 4 .131 .189 .141 1 0 6 30 1 13 0 0 0
1935 NY A 34 83 4 10 0 4 .120 .151 .120 0 0 3 15 0 7 0 0 0
1936 NY A 31 69 1 10 0 5 .145 .181 .159 1 0 3 23 0 8 0 0 0
1937 NY A 34 105 8 21 0 4 .200 .236 .219 2 0 5 22 0 5 1 0 0
1938 NY A 32 86 5 13 0 7 .151 .189 .174 2 0 4 18 0 9 0 0 0
1939 NY A 26 73 3 11 0 4 .151 .205 .178 2 0 5 22 0 4 0 0 3
1940 NY A 9 9 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
1941 NY A 23 59 5 9 0 4 .153 .194 .169 1 0 3 12 0 4 0 0 1
1942 NY A 13 33 4 5 0 4 .152 .176 .152 0 0 1 12 0 1 0 0 1
1943 WAS A 1 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 368 904 59 133 0 58 .147 .194 .159 11 0 50 252 2 68 1 0 5

Transactions

  • Sold by San Francisco (PCL) to New York Yankees (August 17, 1929).
  • Sold by New York Yankees to Boston Braves (January 25, 1943).
  • Released by Boston Braves (May 19, 1943).
  • Signed by Washington Senators (@May 21, 1943).
  • Released by Washington Senators (July 15, 1943).

Trivia


See also

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