1972. Very Good.
Vernon "Lefty" Gomez (1908-1989) was born in Rodeo, California, the youngest of eight children, to Francisco and Rita Gomez. He began playing baseball on his hometown team at age thirteen, and by fourteen was pitching throughout central California. In 1928, when Gomez was 20 years old, he signed a contract to play for the San Francisco Seals, and two years later he joined the New York Yankees. Except for a single game in 1943 with the Washington Senators, Gomez spent his entire career with the Yankees (1930-1942). He was a key part of the team's dominant run in the 1930s, which saw them winning five World Series titles. In World Series games, Gomez was undefeated on the mound, boasting a 6-0 record, which still stands today as the longest undefeated winning streak for a pitcher in the World Series. In his relatively short but illustrious career, Gomez was selected for seven All-Star games and won the Triple Crown twice (1934 and 1937). He was the starting pitcher for the American League in the first ever All-Star game on July 6, 1933, and even drove in the first run. In 1972, Gomez was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Other career highlights include: first pitcher on the cover of Time magazine (1934), Director of Babe Ruth League International (1964-1989), Honorary 50th Anniversary All-Star Game Pitcher (1983), recipient of King of Baseball title (1986), and recipient of the Lou Gehrig Pride of the Yankees Award (1987). Off the field, Gomez was married to actress June O'Dea. The two met in 1932 while June had a starring role in George Gershwin and George S. Kaufman's hit Broadway musical, Of Thee I Sing. They married in 1933 and stayed together for fifty-six years, until Lefty's death in 1989. The couple had three children: Vernona, Sharon, and Gary. Nicknamed "El Goofo" and "Goofy Gomez," Lefty was known for his eccentric personality and one-liners. He would often hold up games to watch a plane pass overhead. Many of his jokes centered around his notoriously bad hitting - for example, in 1987, after successfully undergoing triple bypass surgery, he told the doctor, "Well, that's the first triple I ever got in my life." He also coined the classic phrase, "I'd rather be lucky than good." Letters dated 1972-1990, with some exceptions. Housed in a black three-ring binder, with protective plastic sleeves. Everything in near fine/fine condition, except for a few pages with some insect damage to edges, and occasional toning. Some letters have normal fold-lines. Many letters are with their original envelopes. (1) 28 TLS and ALS from various major and minor league sports teams, signed primarily by team GMs, congratulating Lefty for his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1972. Some notable teams include the New York Yankees, Denver Bears, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds (signed by Bob Howsam, GM of the Reds from 1967 to 1977, and a major contributor to the success of the "Big Red Machine"), St. Louis Cardinals (signed by highly successful GM Bing Devine), Atlanta Braves, San Francisco 49ers, California Angels, and others. With TLS and ALS letters of personal congratulations from Dario Lodigiani, Edwin "Cy" Williams, John Ascuaga (Nevada gaming pioneer), Whitey and Joan Ford (unsigned telegram), two from Paul S. Kerr (National Baseball Hall of Fame president), Robert C. Cannon (a Milwaukee judge who came within one vote of being elected Baseball Commissioner), and Jack Hand (AP sports reporter). Some notes are personal and entertaining, like one from Neil Mahoney, a legendary scout for the Yankees' rival, the Boston Red Sox. Mahoney writes, "I realize it will be difficult for you to accept my heartiest congratulations, but please try. I will be in the front row at Cooperstown next July, knowing that if you tried to throw something at me that you can only play soft toss now." (2) Six holiday greeting cards, including an ALS from Tom Lasorda (Hall of Fame LA Dodgers manager), humorous ALS from Bobby and Monica Doerr that begins "Hi Showboat," TLS from Albert "Happy" Chandler (second Commissioner of Baseball, from 1945-1951), ALS from Bill and Jess Dickey (Bill was a Hall of Famer who played on the Yankees with Gomez for Gomez' entire career) in which Jess calls Lefty "such a young '79' and writes "To spend time with you [June] + Lefty always lifts our spirits", and 1987 ALS from Norman Shumway (the "father of the heart transplantation" who performed Gomez' triple bypass heart surgery at Stanford Medical Center). (3) 25 other notable letters, including a TLS from Frank Steele (Of Perez-Steele) signed by Steele and Gomez, two TLS from "Happy" Chandler, two TLS from Peter O'Malley (President of LA Dodgers) [one congratulating Lefty for earning the King of Baseball title], 1977 ALS from Hall of Famer Bowie Kuhn (fifth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1984, sending well-wishes for Lefty's recovery from an operation), letter from Bobby Bragan (Director of Texas Rangers public relations who formerly played against Gomez, about an 1987 Old Timers event with handwritten note: "P.S. you killed 'em Lefty - you made all of us look good - as usual - Regards to your beautiful Jane - and tell her you were great as always"), TLS from James A. Farley (political kingmaker behind FDR's rise to the presidency), 1985 and 1987 TLS from Peter Ueberroth (sixth Baseball Commissioner, 1984-1989, regarding the Hall of Fame), and a 1989 TLS condolence letter from legendary MLB scout Gary Hughes to June Gomez: "When I talked to you in the hospital the Sunday before he went I had to hang up fast. I just started crying. I am now… Vernon once told me that even after I'd moved he would drive by the coffee shop just to see if my car was there. It's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me." (4) Five photographs, including: a photo from 1987 Lou Gehrig Pride of the Yankees ceremony signed by Lefty, a photo of Bill Dickey and Lefty signed by Lefty, a Ted Williams portrait (photo credit to Vernona Gomez), a likely Type 1 photo of Leo Durocher arguing with an umpire, and a photo of five Yankees HOFers reunited at an event. (5) Two newspaper clippings and four programs for post-retirement events, including a "Celebration of Bay Area Baseball" program signed by four players who played against Lefty: Augie Galan (3x All-Star), Sam Chapman (1x All-Star), Dick Bartell (2x All-Star), and Bill Rigney (1x All-Star), and a "Dinner with Lefty Gomez" ticket signed by Lefty. (6) Other unique materials, including: a telegram from 1938 inviting Lefty to participate in the 1939 Professional Golfers Association Championship the day before the All-Star Game (telegram notes that Babe Ruth has also been invited, to act as host), and a signed issue of Pinstripes (official publication of the NY Yankees) with article on Gomez plaque unveiling.