Right-hander Don Newcombe, who was the third African-American pitcher to appear in a major-league game and who won the first Cy Young Award in 1956, has died at the age of 92. On Tuesday the Dodgers, the team for whom Newcombe pitched for eight his 10 big-league seasons, announced his death after a lengthy illness.
"Don Newcombe's presence and life established him as a role model for major leaguers across the country," Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a statement released by the team. "He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium and players always gravitated to him for his endless advice and leadership. The Dodgers meant everything to him and we are all fortunate he was a part of our lives."
Over the course of Newcombe's career, he accumulated 149 wins despite missing two full seasons to military service. Newcombe was a core member of the 1955 Dodgers, who won the team's only World Series title while based in Brooklyn. In addition to winning NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1949 and the first Cy Young in 1956 -- when there was only one award covering both leagues -- Newcombe also took NL MVP honors in '56. Until Justin Verlander, he was the first player ever to win all three awards.
Newcombe not only provided a link to the Dodgers' roots in Brooklyn, but he was also one of a dwindling number of living players who once played in the Negro Leagues, as he spent his age-18 and age-19 seasons with the Newark Eagles.
According to the Dodgers, Newcombe is survived by his wife Karen Newcombe, son Don Newcombe Jr., spouse Kapiolai Newcombe, daughter Kellye Roxanne Newcombe, son Brett Anthony Newcombe, spouse Anna Miranda Newcombe, grandchildren Cayman Newcombe and Riann Newcombe and stepson Chris Peterson.