ON THE SIDELINES: Let’s hear it for the southpaws

by Jun 19, 2015SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments






What do Larry Bird, Ty Cobb and a kangaroo all have in common?  And, no, this isn’t a joke.  They are all left-handed, southpaws to some.

A study published last week in Current Biology states that a research team from Saint Petersburg University in Russia has determined that all wild kangaroos “show a natural preference for their left hands when performing particular actions.”  Reading that study made me think of all of the great athletes who are or have been southpaws.

I am left-handed.  Like myself, many lefties are quite adept at many right-handed tasks – mainly because it’s a right-handed world and we have to adapt.

To me, it’s never been that big of a deal, but to others, it clearly seems odd that I am able to do anything with my right hand.  Last week, I was sitting down playing bass guitar with some friends.  I have never had a left-handed bass so I just play a “regular” bass right-handed.  One person there realized when watching me that I was playing right-handed and was just in utter amazement.  To me, it was just an adjustment, one of many, which I’ve had to make to a truly right-handed world.  Don’t even get me started on scissors.

I’ve always thought that left-handed athletes have an advantage.  Righties don’t know what we’re going to do next, and they aren’t used to how games are played from a left-handed perspective.  Being a leftie volleyball player helped me out tremendously over the years.  I was able to hit around blockers many times simply because they couldn’t adjust to where the ball was coming from.

Some of the top athletes of all time have been left-handed including:  Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Wayne Gretzky, Bill Russell, Pele’ and others.  When you play against 90 percent right-handed people all of your life, it must be odd to suddenly be playing against someone who is playing completely opposite.

In 2007, scientists at the Australian National University published a study in the scientific journal Neuropsychology that looked at the reaction time in both right-handed and left-handed people.  The study showed that lefties processed information 43 milliseconds faster than righties.  That might seem miniscule, and it probably is, but every millisecond counts when you’re trying to hit a 100 mph fastball.

I think the legendary W.C. Fields summed us lefties up best when he said, “If the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body, and the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, then left-handed people must be the only ones in their right minds.”


“Looking forward to the rest of my life with this amazing girl,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a Twitter post after his engagement to longtime girlfriend Amy Reimann.