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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

ESPN:  Former Dodgers great Don Newcombe dead at 92

Newcombe, one of the first African-American pitchers in MLB, joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949, winning Rookie of the Year while helping the team win the NL pennant. In Newcombe’s debut season, he and Dodgers teammates Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella became three of the first four African-Americans (along with Cleveland outfielder Larry Doby) to appear in an All-Star Game.

His best season came in 1956, when he led the league with 27 wins and won the Cy Young and MVP awards and led the Dodgers to another NL pennant.


He is survived by Carl Erskine, Sandy Koufax, Roger Craig and Tommy Lasorda.

Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 19, 2019 at 03:31 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 1955 dodgers, don newcombe

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   1. phredbird Posted: February 19, 2019 at 06:02 PM (#5816630)

sorry to hear this. i used to see him in his panama hat at dodger games.
   2. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 19, 2019 at 06:25 PM (#5816641)

RIP. I believe Newcombe was the first player to win all three of the ROY, CYA, and MVP awards, and was the only player to have done it for 55 years, until Verlander matched him.
   3. AndrewJ Posted: February 19, 2019 at 06:33 PM (#5816642)
So in less than a fortnight, the 1956 Cy Young winner and NL MVP and Rookie of the Year are dead.
   4. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:03 PM (#5816645)
I always associate Newcombe with a story my father-in-law tells. He was serving in the Army in Korea, got leave and traveled to Tokyo with some other GIs, where they bumped into Newcombe and other Dodgers in the Ginza Market. The team was coming off the '55 World Series title and touring Japan ahead of the '56 season. My father-in-law and his buddies got free passes to that evening's game and photos with the players. Sounds like it was a big thrill for him, a Brooklyn kid, even though he was secretly a Yankees fan all along.
   5. . . . . . . Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:09 PM (#5816646)
One of the greats. Criminally underrated.
   6. esseff Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:16 PM (#5816649)
Does anyone know why Newcombe wasn't one of the featured players in Roger Kahn's "Boys of Summer"? Did he just choose not to participate
   7. AndrewJ Posted: February 19, 2019 at 07:39 PM (#5816657)
I believe Kahn focused primarily on the 1952-53 Dodgers, when Newcombe would have been in the service.
   8. esseff Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:07 PM (#5816665)
Looks like that could be it. Thanks.
   9. AndrewJ Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:46 PM (#5816668)
Newcombe had a reputation for choking in the clutch -- he went 0-4 in the World Series, gave up the pennant-winning homer to Dick Sisler on the last day of the 1950 season and couldn't close out the bottom of the ninth against the Giants a year later, being relieved by Ralph Branca.
   10. . . . . . . Posted: February 19, 2019 at 08:51 PM (#5816670)
In all seriousness, Newcombe is more than just a Dodger Great (TM). He likely is in the HoF in a fair world. He was stashed in the minors for a long time after he was ready, ostensibly to work on his control but likely some mix of that and the color of his skin. He lost years to the war. You can differ on how that should be accounted for but my guess is it gives him career value in the Sabathia range.
   11. The Honorable Ardo Posted: February 19, 2019 at 09:29 PM (#5816681)
He likely is in the HoF in a fair world.
Very possible. There's long been a Newcombe contingent at the Hall of Merit. If he hadn't faded so quickly, he'd probably have been inducted a while ago.

By B-Ref, he has only 29 pitching WAR, but he lost at least 10 WAR between his delayed start and missing 1952-53, and he has a strong claim to be the best-hitting pitcher in the integration era (8 batting WAR).
   12. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 19, 2019 at 10:14 PM (#5816691)
Don Newcombe and Larry Doby signed with the Chunichi Dragons for the 1962 season. Newcombe was 36, and done as a pitcher - he only pitched one game in Japan. But he played in 81 games as an outfielder/first baseman, putting up a line of .262/.316/.473, with 12 HR and 43 RBI. His 12 HR and 43 RBI ranked third on the team, and ahead of the 10 and 35 that Doby provided. Among players was 40+ AB, Newcombe had the highest SLG on the team. In fact, it was the third highest SLG in the Central League, behind only Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima...
   13. baudib Posted: February 19, 2019 at 10:39 PM (#5816697)
Newcombe should probably be in the HOF. Feels like if he were 5 years older he would have been an established star in the Negro Leagues and not needed 3 years of minor league ball, and he'd be sort of a split career candidate like Monte Irvin.

Feel like the established stars of the Negro Leagues have been fairly represented but there are guys like Newcombe, Elston Howard, Luke Easter who didn't quite get enough credit for how difficult it was for them to put up real numbers in MLB.



   14. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: February 19, 2019 at 11:23 PM (#5816704)
Criminally underrated.
I don't know where you get that, he won every award you could win and made the all-star team in almost all his good years. He was a great ambassador for the Dodgers when he retired and he was beloved by the fan base.
   15. TomH Posted: February 20, 2019 at 06:38 AM (#5816718)
It is easy to be underrated when your superior team was consistnetly crushed in the postseason, and your pitching record was 0-4 with an ERA of 8.6.

I know, small sample.
   16. . . . . . . Posted: February 20, 2019 at 06:47 AM (#5816720)
I don't know where you get that, he won every award you could win and made the all-star team in almost all his good years. He was a great ambassador for the Dodgers when he retired and he was beloved by the fan base.


I don’t think it’s common knowledge that with minor league credit, war credit, and a proper credit for his hitting, Newk is a low end HoM guy. He missed out mostly because of arguments about whether he should get MiLB credit but I don’t think anyone disagreed that he was MLB caliber in those years, just whether he was “unfairly” held back in the minors. He’s not just a high-peak “face of the franchise” type, he actually had a substantial career notwithstanding the booze.

He’s also just an impressive guy. 3rd black pitcher in MLB, kicked the sauce 50 years ago and stayed dry . . . Newk was a tough cookie.
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 20, 2019 at 08:04 AM (#5816725)
Newcombe had a reputation for choking in the clutch -- he went 0-4 in the World Series, gave up the pennant-winning homer to Dick Sisler on the last day of the 1950 season and couldn't close out the bottom of the ninth against the Giants a year later, being relieved by Ralph Branca.

Well, his first World loss was due to not pitching to the score: It was a 1-0 walkoff home run to Tommy Henrich in game 1 of 1949 after he'd allowed 5 hits over the first 8 innings and put up a 79 Game Score. Unfortunately Allie Reynolds was one pitch better that day.

And you have to look at most of those other games with a bit of context. In 1950 and 1951, Newcombe had to have been totally gassed, given a September workload that would've qualified him for a Purple Heart today. In 1950, from September 2nd until the final day, Newk started 9 games, relieved in 2 more, pitched 6 complete games and 72 innings. And if the Dodgers' third base coach hadn't run Cal Abrams into an out in the bottom of the 9th in that Phillies finale, Newcombe would've likely been the 2-1 winner.

Oh, and he also started both games of a doubleheader on September 6th, throwing a shutout in game 1, and allowing 2 runs in 7 innings in game 2, a game which the Dodgers eventually won.

And here's what he did in 1951: Pitched a shutout on two days' rest on the final Saturday of the season; threw 5.1 innings of shutout relief the next day, letting the Dodgers come back and force a playoff series; and then pitched into the 9th in the Thomson game on two days' rest, allowing but 1 run until he finally gave out.

EDIT: And if Charlie Dressen hadn't mispositioned Gil Hodges when Don Mueller was up with a runner on 1st and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th, Mueller's single to right would've been a double play, leaving the Giants still 3 runs down with 2 outs and nobody on.

I'd love to see Jack Morris do that. Or any other pitcher over the past 50 years. Newk was a horse with the heart of a lion. Not a HoFer, but with as much talent as most of the ones who made it.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 20, 2019 at 08:30 AM (#5816727)
I didn't realize the extent to which Newcombe was still very much a part of the Dodgers family. He was very close to Kenley Jansen:

“What he went through for us today to be here and play this game – him and Jackie and Campanella,” Jansen said. “Those three Dodger greats did a lot for us to have this moment to play this game. I learned so much from him – what he went through. … I learned to be a better father to my kids, a better husband. Definitely learned a lot from him.”


I've never been a Dodgers fan, but you've got to respect the way they keep their history alive.

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