The 20 greatest Dodgers of all time, No. 19: Don Newcombe
On April 11, we asked you to list your choices for the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time. You could vote via comment, Facebook, Twitter or email. And vote you did. Between April 11 and April 21, when voting closed, we received an amazing 12,231 ballots. So many, that we have decided to expand the list from the top 10 to the top 20. Each weekday at 11 a.m., a new player will be listed as we count down all 20.
Remember, any Dodger, Brooklyn or L.A., was eligible, including managers, owners, announcers, etc. Points were assigned based on where you list the player on the ballot. Your first choice received 12 points, second choice 10, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th place.
So with no further ado, here is No. 19:
No. 19: Don Newcombe (1 first-place vote, 5,285 points)
Don Newcombe had one of the best rookie seasons in history in 1949, winning the Rookie of the Year award after finishing 17-8 with a 3.19 earned-run average and a league-leading five shutouts. He followed that up with 19-11 and 20-9 season, before missing two years because of military service during the Korean War.
He returned to the Dodgers during the 1954 seasons, and, after a 9-8 season, had two of the best years in Dodgers history, finishing 20-5 as the Dodgers won the World Series in 1955, and following it up with a 27-7 season in 1956, winning the Cy Young and MVP award, making him the first of only two pitchers to win all three major awards (ROY, Cy Young and MVP) in his career. Detroit’s Justin Verlander is the other pitcher.
1956 was also his last great season, as he became a mediocre pitcher at best after that. He came west with the Dodgers in 1958 but was traded to Cincinnati after going 0-6 in his first eight starts for Los Angeles.
Newcombe was also one of the best-hitting pitchers in history, batting .271 in his career with 15 home runs.
Years later, Newcombe blamed alcoholism for the decline of his career and his since helped numerous other major leaguers defeat their substance abuse problems.
“I’m glad to be anywhere when I think about my life back then,” Newcombe said in 2010. “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.”
That same year, former Dodgers great Maury Wills, who Newcombe helped overcome years of substance abuse, said, “Don Newcombe saved my life. He was a channel for God’s love for me because he chased me all over Los Angeles trying to help me and I just couldn’t understand that -- but he persevered -- he wouldn’t give in and my life is wonderful today because of Don Newcombe.”
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