The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin a series of collectors’ pins giveaways Monday night to honor their record eight Cy Young Award winners, handing out a pin of Don Newcombe, the first winner of the pitching award.
The first 40,000 fans at the interleague game against the Seattle Mariners at Dodger Stadium will receive the pin of Newcombe, who won the award in 1956, when it covered all of Major League Baseball. Separate awards for the top pitchers in both the American and National League began being presented in 1967.
Newcombe was 27-7 in 1956, leading the National League in victories, winning percentage (.794) and fewest walks and hits per inning (0.989) as the Brooklyn Dodgers won their second consecutive pennant and sixth in 10 years.
Newcombe was also the National League MVP in 1956. He had been the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1949, and was the only player to be an MVP, Cy Young Award winner and Rookie of the Year until 2011 when Justin Verlander was selected as the American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner, five years after he was the league’s Rookie of the Year.
Newcombe had only one more winning season after 1956. Following an 0-6 start in the Dodgers first season in Los Angeles in 1958, Newcombe was traded to Cincinnati. He concluded his major league playing career in 1960 with Cleveland.
Newcombe, who will turn 89 on June 14, is in his 58th season with the Dodger organization. He is credited with starting Major League Baseball’s first community relations department in 1970. All 30 MLB teams now have community relations departments. He has been a special advisor to the chairman since 2009.
Newcombe began his professional career with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League in 1944 and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1946.
When team President Branch Rickey attempted to send Newcombe and future Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella to the Dodgers Danville, Illinois, affiliate in the Class B Three-I League, the league threatened to shut down if the two black players arrived.
Instead, Newcombe and Campanella were sent to the Nashua (New Hampshire) Dodgers of the Class B New England League in 1946, making them the first U.S.- based team in organized baseball in the 20th century to include black players. Jackie Robinson had begun his career in the Dodger organization that year with its International League affiliate in Montreal.
Monday night’s ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Nico DeJesus, who plays Romeo in the musical “Newsies,” which will run at the Hollywood Pantages through May 19. LA Opera bass-baritone Ryan McKinny will sing the national anthem.
Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Todd P. Klipp of New York will be honored as the Military Hero of the Game. He served on active duty for 26 years and was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea with the U.S. 6th Fleet, the North Atlantic with NATO, and the the Persian Gulf with the U.S. 5th Fleet.
Klipp completed his career at the Naval Surface Warfare Command, Port Hueneme Division, where he served as chief staff officer and department officer for the Ship Defense and Expeditionary Warfare Department.
Auto gates will open at 4:30 p.m. and stadium gates at 5 p.m. for the 7:10 p.m. game, the first of a three-game series.
—City News Service
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