Dodgers legend Don Newcombe has died at 92 years of age, according to a team announcement. MLBTR extends its best wishes to his family and friends.
Newcombe was revered around the game as one of its greatest ambassadors. His connection with the Dodgers organization stretched back to his playing days alongside Jackie Robinson and other Brooklyn legends. It continued for decades thereafter, with Newcombe’s regal presence becoming a Dodger Stadium institution.
In his playing days, Newcombe exhibited immense talent and was at times among the very best players in the game. He was voted the National League Rookie of the Year in 1949 and received both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards in 1956.
After emerging as a force on the mound, Newcombe lost two prime seasons to the Korean War and struggled a bit upon his return. But he rebounded to turn in his greatest-ever campaign in ’56, when he pitched to a 3.06 ERA in 268 innings. All told, Newcombe threw 2,154 2/3 innings of 3.56 ERA ball with the Dodgers, Reds, and Indians.
“Newk” was also an accomplished hitter, with a lifetime .271/.338/.367 batting line and 15 home runs in nearly a thousand MLB plate appearances. Remarkably, he even turned in part of a season as an outfielder/first baseman in Japan at the end of his career, slashing .262/.316/.473 and launching a dozen long balls in 301 plate appearances for the Chunichi Dragons.
Newcombe only spent a brief portion of his playing career in Los Angeles, as he was dealt to Cincinnati not long after the Dodgers completed their coast-to-coast move. After achieving sobriety, though, he returned to the L.A. organization, where he helped others battling substance abuse issues and — in the words of club president Stan Kasten — provided “endless advice and leadership” to Dodgers players.