Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to No. 21 in our countdown.
The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 21: Don Newcombe (13 first-place votes, 4,413 points)
Shohei Ohtani? Don Newcombe could have been a two-way player if the Dodgers would have let him.
In 1956, Newcombe went 27-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 38 games, 36 starts and 268 innings with 15 complete games. At the plate, he hit .234 with six doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs. He won the Cy Young and MVP awards after the season. He was Rookie of the Year in 1949 and is the first player to win all three major baseball awards.
In an eight-season Dodger career, Newcombe went 123-66 with a 3.51 ERA. He went 20-5 during the Dodgers’ World Series champion 1955 season. That year, he hit .259 with nine doubles, seven homers and 23 RBIs. How good a hitter was Newcombe? He pinch-hit 88 times in his career.
He last pitched in the majors with Cleveland in 1960. In 1962, he signed with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, as a hitter, not as a pitcher. In 81 games, he hit .262 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs.
Newcombe struggled with alcoholism for years, but has been sober since 1967. He has worked for the Dodgers for years, helping athletes and others around the country in their struggles with sobriety.
“What I have done after my baseball career and being able to help people with their lives and getting their lives back on track and they become human beings again means more to me than all the things I did in baseball,” Newcombe said in 2008.
Should Don Newcombe be in the Hall of Fame? If you go strictly by the numbers, no. But if you consider he missed part of his career because of the ban against African American players, and part of his career because he served two years in Korea during the Korean War, and you consider all the baseball players he has helped since retirement, then a strong case can be made for Newcombe.
Note: A reminder, I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who sent me their choices for the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I will be presenting the top 25 in points. We will be counting down Nos. 25 to 11, one each weekday, for the next three weeks. Then we will time the top 10 so No. 1 unveils on March 29, the day the season opens. There will be separate newsletters for any news that comes out of spring training.
Last week, I ran a list of every name that had received at least one vote. I accidentally skipped a row on my spreadsheet, plus there were a handful of new names in the 50 ballots that were remaining, so please add these to the list:
Dr. Frank Jobe
The countdown continues on Monday. Also, in an additional newsletter Monday, we will start breaking down the Dodger roster, comparing the players at each position to other teams in the NL West.