Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers pitching legend Don Newcombe has plenty to be proud of both on and off the field.
The biggest highlights of his baseball career came in 1956 when he won 27 games, including 18 complete games, on his way to being named the National League Cy Young Award winner and NL MVP, the first to win both awards in the same season.
Newcombe also missed two seasons in the middle of his prime in (1952 and 1953) to serve in the Korean War, another proud achievement for the 88 year old from Madison, New Jersey. When his career ended in 1960 as member of the Cleveland Indians, his passion for community service took on an even bigger role in the life of the player who, alongside fellow Dodgers Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, was a key figure after baseball broke the color barrier in 1947.
Newcombe began to help several players dealing with substance abuse after he retired, including former Dodgers right-hander Bob Welch. He spoke with Lyle Spencer of MLB.com and shared the satisfaction that comes from his selfless endeavor:
What I have done after my baseball career — being able to help people with their lives and getting their lives back on track so they become productive human beings again — that means more to me than all the things I did in baseball.”
Former Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills, who suffered from cocaine addiction for years, credited Newcombe with helping him turn his life around several years ago:
I’m standing here with the man who 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.”
Newcombe, who rejoined the Dodgers organization in the 1970s, was named special adviser to the chairman of the team in 2009. He makes appearances at Dodger Stadium regularly, and recently was honored by the team distributing a collectors’ pin with him in the windup.
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