BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — Don Newcombe — the award-winning Brooklyn Dodger pitcher who helped integrate major league baseball — died Thursday night after a long illness, officials announced. He was 92.
Newcombe, who won the National League MVP and Cy Young Awards during his 10 years in the majors, was among one of the last links the L.A. Dodgers had to Brooklyn.
Team President Stan Kasten recalled how he continued to serve as a role model to younger players across the nation.
“He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium, and players always gravitated to him for his endless advice and leadership,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a statement. “The Dodgers meant everything to him, and we are all fortunate he was a part of our lives.”
Newcombe became Rookie of the Year when he first joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and went on to win the CY Young and National League MVP awards in 1956.
The Los Angeles Times noted Newcombe broke barriers as an African-American baseball player. He was the first black pitcher to start a World Series game and the first to win 20 games in a single season.
Newcombe pitched in the Major Leagues for 10 years, eight with the Dodgers, and served two years in the military.
As a retired Dodger, Newcombe won a personal battle against alcoholism and, in 1978, began running the Dodger’s drug- and alcohol-abuse program, the Washington Post reported.
The Post’s obituary notes that Newcombe sent Barack Obama a signed baseball and a congratulatory letter after the 2008 election.
“I realize you’ll have some hard times,” Newcombe reportedly told the soon-to-be president. “But you’ll get through them.”
Newcombe is survived by his wife Karen, daughter Kellye Roxanne, his sons Brett Anthony and Don Jr., and his grandchildren Cayman and Riann, according to an official statement.
Funeral services are pending.
Hall of Fame pitcher Don Newcombe throws out the first pitch in honor of his 56 years with the Dodger organization before the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 13, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)