Did you know that five of the seven most recent U.S. presidents have been left-handed? Or that, according to the pro lefty website, lefthandersday.com, lefties particularly excel in tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing?
In celebration of International Left-Handers Day (Aug. 13), we’ve compiled a list of the top five left-handed athletes in sports today.
For the purpose of this list, we’ve included only athletes whose left-handedness pertains to the dominant trait in their sport. For example, left-handed hitters in baseball who throw right-handed have been left off the list. Same goes for hockey, where left-handed shots outnumber the NHL players who shoot right-handed.
The story goes that a right-handed Nadal was encouraged at a young age by his uncle and coach to play left-handed, the idea being to give him a natural advantage in a predominantly right-handed sport. It certainly has given him the upper hand in rivalries against other top players, including Roger Federer (18-10 overall, 8-2 in Grand Slam events) and Novak Djokovic (19-14 overall).
Being left-handed served Watson well at the 2012 Masters, where his brilliant hook shot from deep in the woods on the second playoff hole proved to be the defining moment of his first-ever major tournament victory.
His nickname is “Lefty” despite the fact that golf is Mickelson’s only left-handed activity. With four major championship victories and 40 career PGA Tour wins, Mickelson is the most decorated left-handed golfer ever.
Choosing the best left-handed pitcher in baseball was a difficult decision, but after careful consideration, we’re giving the nod to Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For starters, Kershaw was the National League Cy Young Award winner and strikeout champion in 2011. He also posted the lowest earned run average (2.28) in the big leagues last year, and he continues to dominate hitters on both sides of the plate.
The clincher is that unlike several of his fellow southpaws, Kershaw is a full-on lefty. He writes left-handed and struggles with the same hardships that have plagued lefties for years, such as handling scissors.
OK, so we’re flaking out and including the right-handed throwing Votto. To our credit, though, Votto is one of the game’s best sluggers. This season, he was on pace to match several remarkable feats of Babe Ruth (another lefty), which makes Votto more than worthy of being crowned the top left-handed hitter in baseball.
Here are three more lefties STACK has been privileged to work with:
- Adrian Gonzalez: the Boston Red Sox 1B bats and throws left-handed
- Brandon Jennings: the left-handed Milwaukee Bucks point guard loves to attack the basket and finish to his strong side
- Tim Tebow: He may not win games with his left arm, but he does win games
Photo: Layne Murdoch