Traveling in San Francisco this week for a trade show I stopped at restaurant bearing a sign with a picture of a baseball player at bat and bearing the moniker Lefty O'Doul's. The name was familiar, although at the time, I wasn't sure why. It turns out that the restaurant pays tribute to players of the Pacific Coast League including its longtime manager Lefty O'Doul.
Over the years the PCL saw prolific talent rise through its ranks including the most notable of all, the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio. His formative years of baseball were carefully groomed under the tutelage of O'Doul. However, he refused to take credit for DiMaggio's success, saying "I was just smart enough to leave him alone." It turns out that he was also instrumental in bringing professional baseball to Japan.
The restaurant itself is a local institution that has been around since the league's hey day. It is decorated in dozens and dozens of old black and white photographs of players from the league as well as other customary baseball memorabilia such as San Francisco Seals jerseys, team bats and other accoutrement.
In the middle of a hectic business trip it was a nice oasis and served to remind me just how ingrained baseball is the fabric of our national culture.
So hears to you Lefty. To learn more check out his wiki page and the Pacific Coast League page on MiLB.
In addition, he has numerous items on eBay including cut signatures (PSA/DNA $186 BIN) and has a card in the famed 1933 Goudey Set.