New Jersey

Dodgers Great Don Newcombe Has Died at Age 92

Don Newcombe won both the Cy Young and National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1956

What to Know

  • Pitcher Don Newcombe recorded one of the finest baseball seasons in history in 1956 when he won the Cy Young and NL MVP
  • Newcombe represented one of the final links to the storied franchise's days in Brooklyn
  • Newcombe, like teammate and legend Jackie Robinson, was signed by Branch Rickey from the Negro Leagues

Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Don Newcombe, considered one of the all-time great Dodgers and one of the storied franchise's final links to a bygone era, died at age 92, the team announced Tuesday.

Newcombe pitched for 10 seasons, mostly for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He won both the Cy Young and National League Most Valuable Player awards in 1956. 

Born in New Jersey, Newcombe represents one of the franchise's final links to its years in Brooklyn.

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"Don Newcombe's presence and life established him as a role model for major leaguers across the country," said Dodgers President Stan Kasten. "He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium and players always gravitated to him for his endless advice and leadership. The Dodgers meant everything to him and we are all fortunate he was part of our lives."

Newcombe, like Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, was signed by Branch Rickey from the Negro Leagues and went on to make a huge mark in the major leagues.

Newcombe joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949, winning 17 games en route to a Rookie of the Year award as he helped lead the team to the National League pennant. His pitching career was interrupted by military service for two years, when he served in the Korea in 1952-53. He returned to the Dodgers in 1954. Two years later, he won the Cy Young Award and was named National League MVP.

"Newk" was a fierce presence on the mound, a 6-foot-4 and 225-pound bear of a man who stared down hitters and backed up anyone foolish enough to crowd the plate. He was a four-time All-Star and won 20 games three different times.

He remained with the Dodgers until 1958, then ended his career with stints in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Newcombe, Robinson and catcher Roy Campanella were a trio of black stars for the Dodgers who often supported each other.

"We came up with a strategy," Newcombe later recalled. "We knew the impact we were attempting would have. We had to endure. (Robinson's) character, his backbone, his guts -- those were the keys. Jackie was the leader under Mr. Rickey."

The three talked frequently, Campanella and Newcombe from the Dodgers' Nashua, New Hampshire, farm team and Robinson from Brooklyn.

"We talked about how things were going," Newcombe said. "What if somebody charged the mound on me? What would I do? Nobody did.

"I remember in the New England league, a catcher threw dirt in Roy's face. He said, `If you do that again, I'll personally take your arm out of its socket.' They challenged us. They did anything they could to break down the idea."

Newcombe's Dodgers were perennial also-rans, who specialized in winning the National League pennant then losing the World Series to the Yankees. Newcombe played on three pennant winners with the Dodgers and the World Series champions in 1955, the year they finally beat the Yankees.

He is survived by his wife, Karen; children Don Newcombe Jr., Kelly Roxanne Newcombe and Brett Anthony Newcombe; and grandchildren Cayman and Riann.

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