Don Newcombe

Donald Newcombe (June 14, 1926 – February 19, 2019), nicknamed "Newk", was an American professional baseball pitcher in Negro league and Major League Baseball who played for the Newark Eagles (1944–45), Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1949–1951 and 1954–58), Cincinnati Reds (1958–1960), and Cleveland Indians (1960).

Newcombe was the first pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and Cy Young Awards during his career. This distinction would not be achieved again until 2011, when Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, who was Rookie of the Year in 2006, won the Cy Young and MVP awards. In 1949, he became the first black pitcher to start a World Series game. In 1951, Newcombe was the first black pitcher to win twenty games in one season.[1] In 1956, the inaugural year of the Cy Young Award, he became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP and the Cy Young in the same season.[2]

Newcombe was an excellent hitting pitcher who compiled a career batting average of .271 with 15 home runs and was used as a pinch hitter, a rarity for pitchers.[3]

Don Newcombe
Don Newcombe 1955
Newcombe in 1955
Born: June 14, 1926
Madison, New Jersey
Died: February 19, 2019 (aged 92)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 20, 1949, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1960, for the Cleveland Indians
MLB statistics
Win–loss record149–90
Earned run average3.56
Negro leagues

Major League Baseball

Nippon Professional Baseball

Career highlights and awards

Early life

Newcombe was born in Madison, New Jersey, on June 14, 1926, and was raised in Elizabeth.[4] He had three brothers and a sister. His father worked as a chauffeur.[5]

Newcombe attended Jefferson High School in Elizabeth. The school did not have a baseball team, so Newcombe played semi-professional baseball while attending high school.[5]


After playing briefly with the Newark Eagles in the Negro National League in 1944 and 1945, Newcombe signed with the Dodgers. With catcher Roy Campanella, Newcombe played for the first racially integrated baseball team based in the United States in the 20th century, the 1946 Nashua Dodgers of the New England League.[6] He continued to play for Nashua in 1947 before being promoted to the Montreal Royals of the Class AAA International League in 1948.[5]

Newcombe debuted for Brooklyn on May 20, 1949, becoming the third African American pitcher in the major leagues, after Dan Bankhead and Satchel Paige.[5] Effa Manley, business manager for the Eagles, agreed to let the Dodgers' Branch Rickey sign Newcombe to a contract. Manley was not compensated for the release of Newcombe.[7]:p.288 He immediately helped the Dodgers to the league pennant as he earned seventeen victories, led the league in shutouts, and pitched 32 consecutive scoreless innings.[8] He was also among the first four black players to be named to an All-Star team, along with teammates Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and the Indians' Larry Doby. Newcombe was named Rookie of the Year by both The Sporting News and the Baseball Writers' Association of America.[5] In 1950, he won 19 games, and 20 the following season, also leading the league in strikeouts in 1951.[9] In the memorable playoff game between the Dodgers and the Giants at the end of the 1951 season, Newcombe was relieved by Ralph Branca in the bottom of the ninth inning when Clyde Sukeforth instructed manager Chuck Dressen to bring in Branca. Branca then surrendered the walk-off home run to Bobby Thomson to give the Giants the pennant.[10]

After two years of mandatory military duty during the Korean War, Newcombe suffered a disappointing season in 1954, going 9–8 with a 4.55 earned run average, but returned to form the next year by finishing second in the NL in both wins and earned run average, with marks of 20–5 and 3.20, as the Dodgers won their first World Series in franchise history. He had an even greater 1956 season, with marks of 27–7, 139 strikeouts, and a 3.06 ERA, five shutouts and 18 complete games, leading the league in winning percentage for the second year in a row. He was named the National League's MVP, and was awarded the first-ever Cy Young Award, then given to the best pitcher in the combined major leagues. Newcombe had a difficult time in the 1956 World Series. Game Two, a Yogi Berra grand slam drove Newcombe from the game in the top of the second inning. Newcombe left the ballpark while the game was still underway and assaulted Michael "Buster" Brown, a parking-lot attendant outside of Brooklyn's Ebbets Field [Society for American Baseball Research]. He was the losing pitcher in Game 7. Yogi Berra, who hit three home runs off of him in the series, hit two of them in Game 7. The Yankees and Johnny Kucks won 9–0.[5]

Following the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles, Newcombe got off to an 0–6 start in 1958 before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Steve Bilko, Johnny Klippstein, and two players to be named later during the season.[5] He posted a record of 24–21 with Cincinnati until his contract was sold to Cleveland in mid-1960. He finished with a 2–3 mark in Cleveland before being released to end his major league career. Newcombe acknowledged that alcoholism played a significant role in the decline of his career.[11]

On May 28, 1962, Newcombe signed with the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League. Newcombe played one season in Japan, splitting time as an outfielder and a first baseman, only pitching in one game. In 81 games, he hit .262 with 12 home runs and 43 runs batted in (RBIs).[12]

In his ten-year major league career, Newcombe registered a record of 149–90, with 1,129 strikeouts and a 3.56 ERA, 136 complete games and 24 shutouts in 2,154 innings pitched. In addition to his pitching abilities, Newcombe was a dangerous hitter, hitting seven home runs in the 1955 season.[13] He batted .271 (ninth-best average in history among pitchers), with 15 home runs, 108 RBIs, 238 hits, 33 doubles, three triples, 94 runs scored and eight stolen bases.[14]

Life after retirement

Don Newcombe 2009
Newcombe in 2009

Newcombe rejoined the Dodger organization in the late 1970s and served as the team's Director of Community Affairs. In March 2009, he was named special adviser to the chairman of the team.[15]

Personal life

Newcombe was married three times. His first wife was Freddie Green, whom he married in 1945 and divorced in 1960. A week after his divorce from Green, he married Billie Roberts, a marriage which lasted until they divorced in 1994. Newcombe's third wife, Karen Kroner, survived him. Newcombe had three children from his marriages.[5][16]

Newcombe dealt with alcoholism in the 1950s and 1960s, describing himself as "a stupefied, wife-abusing, child-frightening, falling-down drunk". His alcoholism became so severe that, in 1965, he pawned his World Series ring in order to afford alcohol. He quit drinking in 1966, when his wife threatened to leave him.[5] In his personal and professional life, he helped numerous other people including military personnel and Dodgers teammate Maury Wills in their own battles against substance abuse.[17]

At a fundraising event for Senator Barbara Boxer, President Barack Obama referred to Newcombe (who was attending the event) as "someone who helped... America become what it is.[18]

I would not be here if it were not for Jackie and it were not for Don Newcombe.

- Barack Obama, April 19, 2010.


Newcombe died on the morning of February 19, 2019, at the age of 92, following a long illness. His death was announced on the Dodgers' Twitter account.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.198, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  2. ^ Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.152, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
  3. ^ Michael Seidel (March 1, 2002). Streak: Joe Dimaggio and the Summer Of '41. U of Nebraska Press. pp. 126–. ISBN 0-8032-9293-7.
  4. ^ Young, A. S. Doc. "Don Newcombe: Baseball great wins fight against alcoholism", Ebony, April 1976, pp. 54-62. Accessed March 12, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Don Newcombe - Society for American Baseball Research". Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  6. ^ 1:00 PM ET (June 16, 2010). "Holman Stadium Hosted First Interracial Team". NPR. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  7. ^ Simons, William M. Alvin L. Hall (ed.). The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 2000. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0786411201.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Houston. "The 20 greatest Dodgers of all time, No. 17: Don Newcombe". Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  9. ^ Rick Swaine (June 8, 2009). The Integration of Major League Baseball: A Team by Team History. McFarland. pp. 238–. ISBN 978-0-7864-5334-4.
  10. ^ "Ralph Branca, Who Gave Up 'Shot Heard Round the World,' Dies at 90 - The New York Times". Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  11. ^ Scannell, Nancy (May 22, 1977). "Newcombe's Biggest Victory Was Over the Bottle". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  12. ^ "Don Newcombe," Accessed March 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "1955 Brooklyn Dodgers Statistics". January 1, 1970. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  14. ^ Omnisport Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET. "Don Newcombe, star pitcher linked to Dodgers' Brooklyn past, dies at 92 | MLB". Sporting News. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  15. ^ "Don Newcombe named Special Advisor to the Chairman". March 23, 2009. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  16. ^ Marino, David. "Don Newcombe, pitching star who later led programs to treat substance abuse, dies at 92". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  17. ^ Hudson, Maryann (January 31, 1990). "For Wills, Basepaths Led to His Own Private Hell : Baseball: After battling drugs and depression, the former Dodger shortstop finally feels part of a team--and important as an individual". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  18. ^ Obama, Barack (April 19, 2010), Remarks by the President at fundraising event for Senator Boxer and the DNC, retrieved September 12, 2017
  19. ^ Perry, Dayn. "Don Newcombe, former Dodgers great and inaugural Cy Young Award winner, dead at 92". CBS Sports. Retrieved February 19, 2019.

External links

1949 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1949 Brooklyn Dodgers held off the St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League title by one game. The Dodgers lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in five games.

1949 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1949 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 16th annual midseason exhibition game for Major League Baseball all-stars between the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). The AL continued its early dominance of the Midsummer Classic with an 11–7 win at Ebbets Field, home field of the NL's Brooklyn Dodgers. The win moved the AL's all-time record in the game to 12–4.

The 1949 All-Star Game was the first to have African-Americans in the line-up. Jackie Robinson of the Dodgers started for the NL at second base, while his teammates catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe also played for the NL. Cleveland Indians' outfielder Larry Doby played the final four innings of the game for the AL.

1949 Major League Baseball season

The 1949 Major League Baseball season.

1949 World Series

The 1949 World Series featured the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Yankees winning in five games for their second defeat of the Dodgers in three years, and the twelfth championship in team history. This victory would start a record run of five consecutive World Series championships by the Yankees, and was also the first of 14 AL pennants in 16 years (1949–1964 except for 1954 and 1959) for the Yankees.

Both teams finished the regular season with exactly the same records and winning their respective leagues by exactly one game.

1950 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers struggled for much of the season, but still wound up pushing the Philadelphia Phillies to the last day of the season before falling two games short. Following the season, Branch Rickey was replaced as majority owner/team president by Walter O'Malley, who promptly fired manager Burt Shotton and replaced him with Chuck Dressen. Buzzie Bavasi was also hired as the team's first independent General Manager.

Vin Scully joined the Dodgers' radio and television crew as a play-by-play announcer in 1950; in 2016, Scully entered his 67th consecutive season with the club, the longest such tenure in the history of sports broadcasting, that season was the first wherein his voice, as well as of Red Barber's, was broadcast on television station WOR-TV, making the Dodgers the last New York City MLB team to introduce regular television broadcasts, 11 years following the first broadcasts of 1939.

1951 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers led the National League for much of the season, holding a 13-game lead as late as August. However, a late season swoon and a hot streak by the New York Giants led to a classic three-game playoff series. Bobby Thomson's dramatic ninth-inning home run off Dodger reliever Ralph Branca in the final game won the pennant for the Giants and was immortalized as the Shot Heard 'Round the World.

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers season

In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers finally fulfilled the promise of many previous Dodger teams. Although the club had won several pennants in the past, and had won as many as 105 games in 1953, it had never won a World Series. This team finished 13.5 games ahead in the National League pennant race, leading the league in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed. In the 1955 World Series, they finally beat their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. It was the Dodgers first and only World Series championship won while located in Brooklyn.

1955 Philadelphia Phillies season

The 1955 Philadelphia Phillies season was a season in American baseball. It was the first season for Phillies' manager Mayo Smith. Prior to the season, the Phillies were seen to have strong pitching with ace Robin Roberts but did not have power hitters to match pennant favorites Brooklyn, New York, or Milwaukee, behind whom the Phillies finished in fourth place with a record of 77 and 77.

1956 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers edged out the Milwaukee Braves to win the National League title. The Dodgers again faced the New York Yankees in the World Series. This time they lost the series in seven games, one of which was a perfect game by the Yankees' Don Larsen.

1956 Major League Baseball season

The 1956 Major League Baseball season was contested from April 17 to October 10, 1956, featuring eight teams in the National League and eight teams in the American League. The 1956 World Series was a rematch of the previous year's series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The series is notable for Yankees pitcher Don Larsen's perfect game in Game 5.

1956 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1956 throughout the world.

1958 Los Angeles Dodgers season

The Los Angeles Dodgers took the field before 78,672 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 18, 1958, to usher in the beginning of the team's new life in Los Angeles. It was a rough season, as the Dodgers finished 21 games in back of the pennant-winning Milwaukee Braves in the National League standings, but it was the beginning of the second phase for the team. Vin Scully and company moved to KTTV (television) and KMPC (radio) from that year onward, and the Dodgers became one of the first teams that commenced Spanish language radio broadcasts for Latinos, with KWKW as the first station to offer a Spanish-language service.

Carl Erskine

Carl Daniel Erskine (born December 13, 1926) is a former right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 through 1959. He was a pitching mainstay on Dodger teams which won five National League pennants, peaking with a 1953 season in which he won 20 games and set a World Series record with 14 strikeouts in a single game. Erskine pitched two of the NL's seven no-hitters during the 1950s. Following his baseball career, he was active as a business executive and an author.

List of Brooklyn Dodgers Opening Day starting pitchers

From their inception in 1884 through their last year in Brooklyn, 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers (also known as the Trolley Dodgers, Grooms, Bridegrooms, Superbas, and Robins at various times in their history) used 41 different starting pitchers on Opening Day. Brickyard Kennedy made the most Opening Day starts for the Brooklyn Dodgers, with 6 such starts between 1894 and 1900. Nap Rucker made 5 such starts between 1907 and 1913. Carl Erskine made 4 Opening Day starts between 1951 and 1955 and Van Mungo also made 4 Opening Day starts between 1934 and 1938. Five Brooklyn pitchers made 3 Opening Day starts: Leon Cadore, Watty Clark, Don Newcombe, Jesse Petty, Dutch Ruether. The first game of the new baseball season for a team is played on Opening Day, and being named the Opening Day starter is an honor, which is often given to the player who is expected to lead the pitching staff that season, though there are various strategic reasons why a team's best pitcher might not start on Opening Day.The Dodgers played in the modern World Series nine times before moving to Los Angeles, winning once in 1955, when Carl Esrkine was the Opening Day pitcher. Erskine was also the Opening Day pitcher in 1953 when they played in the World Series but lost to the New York Yankees. Joe Hatten also had two Opening Day starts in World Series years, 1947 and 1949. Other Opening Day starting pitchers in World Series years were Larry Cheney in 1916, Leon Cadore in 1920, Whit Wyatt in 1941, Preacher Roe in 1952, and Don Newcombe in 1956.

Prior to the existence of the modern World Series, the Dodgers won National League championships in 1890, 1899 and 1900. They also won an American Association championship in 1889, when the American Association was considered a Major League. They played in the 19th century version of the World Series in 1889 and 1890. Mickey Hughes was the Opening Day starting pitcher in 1889, Bob Caruthers was the Opening Day starting pitcher in 1890, and Kennedy was the Opening Day starting pitcher in 1899 and 1900.

Don Newcombe was the starting pitcher in 1956, the last Opening Day that the Dodgers played in their longtime home field, Ebbets Field. Newcombe was also the Opening Day starter on Opening Day of the 1957 season, the Dodgers last Opening Day before moving to Los Angeles. Nap Rucker was the Opening Day starting pitcher in the last Opening Day the team (then called the Trolley Dodgers) played at their previous home park, Washington Park, in 1912. Rucker was also the Opening Day pitcher in the first game at Ebbets Field in 1913.

Joe Hatten was the Opening Day starting pitcher in one of the most momentous games in baseball history. That was in 1947, the years of Jackie Robinson's first game in the Major Leagues, ending the racial segregation that had prevailed in Major League Baseball since before 1900. The Joe Hatten started and the Dodgers won Jackie Robinson's first major league game, beating the Boston Braves 5-3 at Ebbets Field.

List of Los Angeles Dodgers seasons

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the second most successful franchise in the National League and the third-most successful and second-most wealthy in Major League Baseball after the New York Yankees. The franchise was formerly based in Brooklyn and known originally as the "Grays" or "Trolley Dodgers" after the trams which supporters had to avoid to enter games. Later it became known successively as the "Bridegrooms", "Superbas", "Dodgers" and "Robins"; the present "Dodgers" was firmly established in 1932.

The franchise has won the World Series six times and lost a further 13, and like the Yankees and Cardinals have never lost 100 games in a season since World War I, with their worst record since then being in 1992 with 63 wins and their best records ever being in 1953 with 105 wins and both 1942 and 2017 with 104. Their most successful period, between 1947 and 1966 with ten World Series appearances and only two seasons with 71 or more losses (one of them the year they moved to Los Angeles after a dispute over stadium funding), was famous for the Dodgers becoming the first Major League Baseball team to incorporate African American players, led by Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella.

List of Major League Baseball all-time leaders in home runs by pitchers

In baseball, a home run (HR) is typically a fair hit that passes over an outfield fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more, which entitles the batter to legally touch all bases and score without liability. Atypically, a batter who hits a fair ball and touches each base in succession from 1st to home, without an error being charged to a defensive player, is credited with an inside-the-park home run. If, during a play, defensive or fan interference is called, and the awarded bases allow the batter to cross home plate, the batter is credited with a home run.Wes Ferrell holds the all-time Major League Baseball record for home runs hit while playing the position of pitcher. He hit 37 as a pitcher. Baseball Hall of Famers Bob Lemon and Warren Spahn are tied for second with 35 career home runs apiece. Red Ruffing, Earl Wilson, and Don Drysdale are the only other pitchers to hit at least 25 home runs. Jack Stivetts hit a total of 35 home runs in his playing career, 21 as a pitcher.As of the 2019 season, Madison Bumgarner, with 18 home runs, holds the lead among all active pitchers. Bumgarner also has hit the second most home runs by a pitcher since the American League adopted the designated hitter rule in 1973 (behind Carlos Zambrano). Bumgarner has played his whole career thus far for the San Francisco Giants of the National League.

Ferrell also holds the single-season record for home runs by a pitcher, with nine, a mark that he reached in 1931. The record had previously been held by Stivetts, who had hit seven in 1890. Since 1931, six different pitchers have hit seven home runs in a season: Ferrell, Lemon, Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale (twice), Wilson, and Mike Hampton.Babe Ruth started his major league career as a pitcher before moving to the outfield. Only 14 of his 714 career home runs were hit as a pitcher, however. The first pitcher to officially hit a home run was Jack Manning, who accomplished the feat on August 3, 1876. The most home runs by a pitcher in a single game is three, achieved by Jim Tobin on May 13, 1942.


Newk may refer to:

Don Newcombe (1926–2019), American baseball player

Sonny Rollins (born 1930), American jazz musician

Newk's Time

Newk's Time is an album by Sonny Rollins. It was his third album for Blue Note Records, recorded in 1957 and released in 1959. The title of the album is a reference to Rollins' nickname "Newk", which is apparently based on his resemblance to Don Newcombe, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. "Namely You" was taken from the Broadway show Li'l Abner. The release marked the beginning of Blue Note 4000 series: from this album on, the releases would be catalogued as "BLP 4..." (mono) and "BST 84..." (stereo).

Whiz Kids (baseball)

The Whiz Kids is the nickname of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball. The team was largely made up of rookies; The average age of a member of the Whiz Kids was 26.4 The team won the 1950 National League pennant but failed to win the World Series.

After owner R. R. M. Carpenter, Jr. built a team of bonus babies, the 1950 team won for the majority of the season, but slumped late, allowing the defending National League champion Brooklyn Dodgers to gain ground in the last two weeks. The final series of the season was against Brooklyn, and the final game pitted the Opening Day starting pitchers, right-handers Robin Roberts and Don Newcombe, against one another. The Phillies defeated the Dodgers in extra innings in the final game of the season on a three-run home run by Dick Sisler in the top of the tenth inning. In the World Series which followed, the Whiz Kids were swept by the New York Yankees, who won their second of five consecutive World Series championships.The failure of the Whiz Kids to win another pennant after their lone successful season has been attributed to multiple theories, the most prominent of which is Carpenter's unwillingness to integrate his team after winning a pennant with an all-white team.

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Joe Hatten
Carl Erskine
Brooklyn Dodgers Opening Day
Starting pitcher

Succeeded by
Carl Erskine
Don Drysdale

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