In 1956, Major League Baseball introduced the Cy Young award that would go to the best pitcher in the major leagues in honor of the recently deceased pitcher, Cy Young. On this day that year, Brooklyn Dodgers starting pitcher Don Newcombe became the inaugural winner of the award after a season in which he won 27 games.
Newcombe went 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 36 starts for the Dodgers. He led the league in wins, win percentage (.794) and WHIP (.989). He threw 268 innings in 38 overall games with 18 complete games, five by way of shutout. The announcement came about a week after Newcombe was named National League MVP.
The win gave Newcombe his third major award, after winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 1949. He became the only player to win a ROY, Cy Young and MVP in his career, until Justin Verlander accomplished the feat in 2011. In his career, Newcombe was a four-time All-Star and helped the Dodgers win the World Series in 1955.
The right-hander began his career in 1949 with the Dodgers and pitched three seasons before missing two seasons due to military service in the Korean War in 1952-1953. Newcombe returned in 1954 and remained with the Dodgers until he was traded in 1958 to the Cincinnati Redlegs. In his Dodger career, Newcombe finished 123-66 with a 3.51 ERA and 913 strikeouts in 1,662.2 innings over eight seasons. He was even a good hitter, evidenced by his seven home runs in the 1955 season and .271 career batting average. In 1962, he was signed to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan and pitched in one game for them.
Newcombe retired after the 1960 season and rejoined the Dodger organization in the 1970s as the team’s Director of Community Affairs. In 2009, he was named a special adviser to the chairman of the team. Newcombe is often seen at Dodger games and events in his dapper suits.