In New York, O’Doul was called the Man in the Green Suit, exploiting an Irish-sounding name of French origin. But he was a hero in his hometown of San Fransisco, where his fame lives on through Lefty O’Doul’s Bar.
O’Doul spent most of his career in the Pacific Coast Legue, first as a 12-8 pitcher in 1918. Sore-armed, he saw little action while with the Yankees in 1919, 1920 and 1922, but he went 25-9 for San Fransisco (PCL) in 1921. He earned his two major league decisions as a Red Sox reliever in 1923. Then his arm went dead.
He returned to the PCL, where he pitched unsuccessfully in 1924 and began his second career, as an outfielder, to make use of his great natural hitting ability. With Salt Lake, Hollywood, and San Fransisco (PCL) from 1924-27, O’Doul batted between .338 and .392 and hit with power. He was an OF for the Giants in 1928 before being traded to the Phillies, with cash, for the more-established Fred Leach – a lifetime .307 hitter.
Playing in 154 games for Philadelphia in 1929, O’Doul had 32 home runs and set a National League record with 254 hits, batting .398 to win the NL batting crown. He hit .383 in 1930, then was traded to Brooklyn in a five-player deal. His .368 average in 1932 again won him the NL batting title.
After spending 1934 with the Giants, he returned, at age 37, to the PCL.O’Doul managed the San Fransisco Seals from 1935-1951 (and other PCL teams through 1957), pitching and pinch-hitting some, and becoming a renowned teacher of young players. He sent Joe DiMaggio up to the Yankees, claiming the most significant thing he did for his fellow San Franciscan was to change nothing.
Making annual visits to Japan in the 1930s as a baseball ambassador of good will, he became an idol of fans there. He took the attack on Pearl Harbor as a personal affront. O’Doul died in San Fransisco on December 7, 1969.