“Newk” broke into the league in 1949 and is famous for being the first of two players (Detroit Tiger’s Justin Verlander in 2011) to win the Rookie of the Year, MVP and Cy Young award in his career.
Mr. Newcombe also became the first black pitcher to start a World Series game, the first black pitcher to win 20 games in a season and was the first winner of the Cy Young award in his 1956 MVP season.
Newcombe is largely responsible for the first community relations department in Major League Baseball, which started in 1970 and now all 30 MLB teams have one. Newcombe is still involved as he’s been the special advisor to the chairman since 2009.
On June 8th, the Dodgers took a moment to wish Newcombe a Happy Birthday before a game versus the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mr. Newcombe started off the game with Vinny’s phrase “It’s time for Dodger Baseball” and 40,000 fans attending the game received a special Don Newcombe bobblehead.
Did you know that Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella were the first black players to join a US-based organized baseball team? Jackie Robinson was actually first assigned to the international league affiliate in Montreal.
After his major league career, Newcombe became the first former MLB player to play in Japan and soon after became an important figure in the Civil Rights movement, having a dinner with Martin Luther King, building community relations with the MLB and being honored by President Obama in 2010.
“I said, well, ‘I would not be here if it were not for Jackie and it were not for Don Newcombe.” – President Obama, WhiteHouse.gov
The world would definitely be a different place without Mr. Don Newcombe and all of us at Dodgers Nation want to say Happy Birthday and thank you.