Ode to the Southpaw

Ode to the Southpaw…….

I wasn’t going to blog today.  Mostly because when I am mad it is not a good time to blog – I tend to have an evil side that takes over.  So I have composed myself  enough to give my tribute to my left handed son.  I am actually a few days late, “International Left Handers Day” is Aug 13th.

I’ll start by pointing out the odd fact that the 40th, 41st and 42nd Presidents of the United States were (and are) left handed.  Also the 38th President of the United States was left handed.  For those of you not up on your presidential history…..that would be Gerald Ford (38th), Ronald Reagan (40th), George HW Bush (41st) and Bill Clinton (42nd).  So had it not been for Jimmy Carter there would have been a left handed President from August 9th, 1974 to January 19th, 2001.  But still not a bad stretch for the lefties from January 20th, 1981 to January 19th, 2001.

Other political and hisorically famous “port siders” include Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Iassac Newton, Prince Charles and Prince William, several of the Rockefellers, Fidel Castro (if he’s still really alive) and oddly both John F. Kennedy Jr and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.  The reason it is odd that both of the Kennedy children are left handed is because only 9% of children born to two right handed parents are left handed.

If you like late night TV both David Letterman and Jay Leno are lefties.  There are a lot of cartoonists who are left handed but one of the most famous is Matt Groening creator of The Simpsons.  Has anyone ever noticed that Bart Simpson is left handed?  Probably one of the most famous artists, Leonardo DiVincci, was left handed and often used mirrors when painting and writing.

The article that kicked this off was “Advantages of Left Handed Children – Sports.”  Sports that left handed kids do very well in are:   Bowling, Fencing, Badmitton, Tennis, Hockey (as a goalie – they catch w/ left hand) and Crickett.  The one sport left handed kids dominate in:  BASEBALL.  (You guys knew this left handed tirade had a point right?)  Lets start with the advantages while at bat:  1) Right handed pitchers have a hard time pitching to southpaws and their curve balls and sliding pitchs actually move toward the batter instead of away from him.  2) Batting left gives you a better angle to see the ball and 3) Leftys are 2-3 steps closer to first base giving them an advantage to beat out close calls at 1st base.  There are 4 positions lefty’s can’t play – 3rd base, shortstop, 2nd base and catcher.  Leaving the 1st base and pitcher (and the outfield) to the southpaws.  Left handed 1st basemen have a huge advantage because it is easier for them to catch balls coming from the shortstop.  And a good left handed pitcher is one of the most sought after player in MLB drafts.  Why?  1) They can easily see the runner on 1st while gearing up to pitch  2) The throwing arm of a lefty pitcher is more hidden from view of a righty batter, making it difficult for the batter to gauge the pitch as it’s being thrown. 3) Lefties naturally tend to throw the ball towards the left side of the plate (from the batter’s perspective), placing the pitch inside for a righty batter (which is more difficult to hit).  Although right handed pitchers will usually start the game, left handed pitchers are used strategically throughout the game.  Just a trivia tip:  the term “southpaw” was started by Chicago sportswriters in the 1890’s to describe left handed pitchers because in the Chicago Stadium the left handed pitchers faced south while on the pitching mound.

Who are some of the most famous left handed baseball players?  There are a lot – because being left handed is an advantage that only 8-15% of the population has.  Most of that 8-15% seems to play baseball.  This is just a few: Yogi Berra, Wade Boggs, Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Ken Griffey, Jr., Reggie Jackson, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Tommy LaSorda, Don Mattingly (from Indiana), Rafael Palmeiro (from Cuba), “Neon” Dion Sanders and Daryl Strawberry.  So I think our odds of a 1/4-Cuban Southpaw from Indiana making the pros are increasing!

Oh yeah, and I forgot (actually I left it for a dramatic ending)………. The most famous left handed baseball player of all times, probably the most famous baseball player of all times (and Dawson’s all time favorite player):  The Sultan of Swat, The Home Run King, The Great Bambino,   The Babe………………………………………… George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr.  



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