Former Dodgers Great and Army Vet Don Newcombe Passes

| February 20, 2019

Don Newcombe
Don Newcombe

Don was born in Madison, New Jersey, on June 14, 1926, and was raised in Elizabeth. He had three brothers and a sister, and his father worked as a chauffeur.

Newcombe attended Jefferson High School in Elizabeth. The school did not have a baseball team, so Newcombe played semiprofessional baseball while attending high school.

During WWII, Don had a very short career in the Army- he was released from service for being under age in 1943, so he tried the Navy with similar results.

Don, 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.

“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.

His greatest year was 1956 when he went 27-7 and won both the Cy Young Award, then only given to one pitcher for both leagues, and the National League MVP award.

Like many ballplayers of his generation, Don lost some prime years to military service, giving the Army the 1952 and 1953 seasons.

“I served my country,” Newcombe says. “I was going to fight for my country and my flag if I was asked. I didn’t dodge bullets, but I’m proud of my contribution.”

Fair winds and following seas, Mr. Newcombe.

Hat tip to Hondo.

Refs: Wiki, GV Wire

Category: Army, North Korea, Veterans in the news, We Remember

Comments (11)

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  1. BlueCord Dad says:

    Before they moved to LA-LA land, my dad was a rabid Dodger fan. They won the World Series the year I was born and growing up he talked about that all the time. I can’t imagine Newcombe pitching nowadays. The man had 136 complete games. Now if a starter goes all the way you’d think he performed a miracle..

  2. AnotherPat says:

    “I served my country,” Newcombe says. “I was going to fight for my country and my flag if I was asked. I didn’t dodge bullets, but I’m proud of my contribution.”

    Rest In Peace, Mr. Newcombe. Kapernick could learn alot from you.

  3. Sparks says:

    Rest in peace Mr. Newcombe. God be with your family.

  4. 5th/77th FA says:

    No surprise Newk was a Patriotic American, shares a birthday with not only The US Army (14 Jun 1775), but also Old Glory (14 Jun 1777). And to show his lack of prejudice, joined the Army (twice) and attempted to join the Navy. (goarmybeatnavy). And then served honorably when he possibly could have avoided service.

    Used to listen to his games on AM radio way back yonder. He was used on several occasions as a life lesson on the whole “all men were created equal thing” in my youth.

    Rest easy Newk. Hand Salute!

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    Another under age fellow tries to join the Army and they said ‘No’, but he went ahead and did it, anyway.

    And then he turned out to be one bodacious baseball player.

    Rest in peace, and make sure you set the mound up just the way you like it, Nuke.

  6. Trapper Frank says:

    In addition, Mr. Newcomb faced and conquered his problems with alcohol. One hell of a man.

  7. 5jc says:

    Note that once again Wikipedia has omitted any mention of his service.

  8. Comm Center Rat says:

    Newcombe was the first pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year (1949), Most Valuable Player (’56), and Cy Young Awards (’56) during his career. He was also the first black pitcher to start a World Series game (’49) and to win 20 games in a season (’51). Newcombe along with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Larry Doby were the Big Four who integrated and sustained major league baseball with incredible playing careers.

    I’m a die hard NY Yankees fan but I tip my cap to Newcombe, the great Brooklyn Trolley Dodger!

  9. Jay says:

    When I first got into baseball, I found it interesting that the Dodgers started out in Brooklyn. I read about “Newk” and his imposing presence both on the mound and his prowess at the plate as a pinch hitter. Only later in life did I find out about his relatively short career and struggles with alcoholism. I’m glad he finally conquered his demons. Rest in Peace Don, and thank you for your service.

  10. Green Thumb says:

    So when was he in and what did he do?

    I saw the 52-53 reference, but that was it.