ARTICLE OF THE DAY

The Left-handedness of it all
by Brian North
3/30/05


I wish I were left-handed. My dad was a lefty, but I wasn't so lucky, those genes skipped the right part of my brain, and I have been left behind. I know left-handed people have always been at a disadvantage in the everyday tasks of life: problems with scissors, troubles at the dinner table, buttoning shirts, wrist watch on the wrong hand. But being left-handed in sports seems to be a good thing. Maybe it would have prolonged my short athletic career.

A left-handed pitcher has a career longer than most, since he can get out left-handed hitters more effectively (Randy Johnson, 41 years old, still dominant, Jesse Orosco and John Franco are both 76 years old, and still pitching somewhere). Left-handed hitters have the highest averages in baseball history and hit their fair share of home runs (Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds). ECU's most-prominent big-leaguer, Chad Tracy, is tearing it up from the left side of the plate in Arizona. And expect to see former Pirate lefty Sam Narron pitching for the Brewers this year.

Left-handed basketball players tend to be superior shot blockers since their dominant hand matches up with the right-handed shooter (think Bill Russell). And left-handed coaches win lots of games (Lefty Driesell).

Left-handed golfers are also en vogue. After struggling on the links for many years, portsiders have won the last two Masters (Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson).

A left-handed quarterback was just elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Steve Young, he made his name on the left side of the country), and lefty Michael Vick has people more confused on a football field since Buddy Ryan's old 46 defense (he is left-handed, too).

There must be something to this "wrong side" thing. Former ECU football coach Steve Logan used to talk about winning football games "left-handed", which meant to do things unconventionally. And he has more wins than any other coach in ECU history.

I know we right-handed folks have also done pretty well in the annals of sports history. But left-handers, like blondes, seem to have more fun. And if you want to see something really funny, watch a right-handed person try to throw with his useless arm. So, left-handed people, here's to you, and all that you bring to the world of sports.

Then there are those athletes that are "ambidextrous". But we will save that discussion for another week.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com