THE AIRPLANE STORY. Lefty Gomez was celebrated for his wit, and there are many stories about him. His nicknames included “Goofy” or “El Goofo”, and sportswriters loved to tell stories about him. One I have been telling since I was a boy is about the time that Gomez was pitching in an important game, and in a tense situation, he suddenly took an extended interest in an airplane that was circling near the airport. A very extended interest. Finally, the catcher came out to the mound and asked him what was wrong. The reply was: “Nothing’s wrong. I’ve just figured out that if I don’t throw it, they can’t hit it.”
LEFTY, tells a different version. Gomez was a pilot, loved flying planes, and always studied planes that came into view. It was a World Series game, and it was the manager (Joe McCarthy) and not the catcher who came out to the mound and hollered at Gomez: “He could have hit a homer because you’re not paying attention.” Gomez replied: “He can’t hit it if I don’t throw it.” “With which,” says LEFTY, “another Leftyism was born.” The version in LEFTY is more plausible, but I’m going to stick with the version I’ve heard all my life.