The return of Lefty O’Doul’s left arm last month has brought added attention to the San Francisco bar and solved the mystery of what happened to the arm after it was taken three years ago. But one mystery was left: Who returned it?
In 2007, two men believed to be visiting San Francisco to attend the Major League Baseball All-Star Game were in the bar near Union Square when they ripped the arm off a mannequin meant to be a stand-in for the real Lefty O’Doul, a baseball legend who was born in San Francisco and opened the bar in 1958. The men fled and were never caught.
The case went cold until last month when Doug Kintzle, a man from Urbandale, Iowa, sent the arm back to the bar.
“I had been planning to do so for some time but kept forgetting or other things got in the way,” Kintzle said.
He said he was not responsible for taking it and declined to say who did.
“I was not there,” Kintzle said. “I know who was there but I’m sworn to secrecy unless they want to come forward.”
If the bandits do come forward, they don’t have to worry about the long arm of the law – bar owner Nick Bovis said he will not press charges.
When the arm was returned, it initially frightened the waitress who opened the unexpected piece of mail and thought it was a real human arm, Bovis said.
“When she opened up the box it scared her to death, a box full of (packing peanuts) and an arm sticking out, and she screamed,” he said.
Upon further inspection, the box was found to also include photos of the arm in various locations around Iowa, such as the State Capitol building and the inside of a cannon at a Civil War monument, as well as a letter addressed to the bar’s patrons about the arm’s travels. The letter was from “Lefty’s Left Arm” but did not specify any of the people behind the caper.
The disarming story received national media attention, and has brought many new customers into the business, Bovis said.
“All sorts of people have been coming by, saying they heard it, and are really impressed with the story. It made them laugh,” he said.
The bar is capitalizing on the attention by creating a new beer, Left Arm Ale, which they will have on tap in the coming months with a replica of the arm on the tap, Bovis said.
The stolen arm was reattached a month ago today by Eugene Schoenfeld, a local psychiatrist who also goes by the nickname “Dr. Hip Pocrates.” Schoenfeld slipped on a lab coat to perform the reattachment using a screwdriver and duct tape.
The arm didn’t stay attached for long. People tried to steal the arm again, Bovis said, so it was moved into a sealed locker next to the mannequin, along with the pictures sent by Kintzle and press clippings about the story.
Kintzle said he was surprised by the attention the story has received.
“I was hoping they’d hang a few pictures in the bar and (I’d) maybe get a free beer next time I was in town. If I had known, I would have gotten some more photos” at locations like the Iowa State Fair and the site of the movie “Field of Dreams,” he said.
Kintzle said he “let the owner know who I am” in the days after the arm was returned, and Bovis sent a case of Lefty O’Doul’s famous Bloody Mary mix to him in appreciation of making Lefty whole again.
Kintzle said he plans to visit San Francisco in the next month or so, and he wants to “meet up with the friendly folks at Lefty’s. It is a great bar and I’ve had a fun time every time I’ve been there.”
Bovis said he told Kintzle “when he comes out, we’re going to greet him. We’re going to have fun with it.”