Former Los Angeles Dodgers pitching great Don Newcombe has died at the age of 92 after a lengthy illness, the team announced on Tuesday.
“Don Newcombe’s presence and life established him as a role model for major leaguers across the country,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a statement. “He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium and players always gravitated toward him for his endless advice and friendship. The Dodgers meant everything to him and we are all fortunate he was a part of our lives.”
Newcombe started his big league career as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and won Rookie of the Year while helping the team to the NL pennant.
After a break to serve in the military during the 1952 and ’53 seasons, he returned and with the likes of Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella helped create a World Series champion.
In 1955, the Dodgers won it all, and Newcombe went 20-5 with a 3.20 ERA to help get them there.
His best season on the mound 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. But the Dodgers lost the Series to the Yankees in seven games and Newcombe dropped the deciding contest, giving up two home runs to Yogi Berra.
He never reached the same lofty heights again. After an 0-6 start to the 1958 season in Los Angeles, he was traded to the Reds. He won 13 games in 1959 but only six split between Cincinnati and Cleveland in his last season.
Newcombe finished his 10-year MLB career as a four-time All-Star with a 149-90 record and 3.56 ERA.
The New Jersey native began his professional career in the Negro Leagues in 1944.