Remembering Don Newcombe & Joe Black At World Series Time

Updated: October 23, 2006



As the bottom of the 9th

began in the first game of

the World Series

Saturday evening

The two White Fox Broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver noted one of those endless obscure facts for which Baseball is so well known. They mentioned that if Cardinals’ starting pitcher Anthony Reyes completed the game he would become only the 4th MLB Rookie to ever open a World Series pitching a complete game. He did not being pulled after one out in the 9th.

2 of the 3 who do have the Distinction are …..

Brooklyn Dodgers Teammates Don Newcombe and Joe Black. Both African American Baseball Pioneers opened World Series for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees and threw Complete Games. Don Newcombe in Game 1 of the 1949 World Series losing 1-0 giving up a 9th inning Homer.

As for Joe Black, 3 years later in the opening game of the 1952 World Series again against the New York Yankees, who would win their 4th straight Series, Black was almost flawless as a Rookie, on October 1, 1952, battling Yankee great Allie Reynolds, Black pitched a full game wining 4-2. Unfortunately for Black he went on to lose 2 other games as the Yankees won the Series in 7. Newcombe who had gone of to fight for his country in the Korean War was not there.

Joe Black has the honor of bring the First African American MLB Pitcher to ever win a World Series game. Black like Newcombe back in 1949 was named Rookie of the Year. Black in 1952. Black who was groom as a Relief Pitcher was still chosen by Brooklyn manager Chuck Dressen to start 3 World Series games in October 1952. All three outings impressive although only the first ended in Victory. And so the perennial Series losers would have to wait another 3 years to finally win their first and only World Series.

Sadly Joe Black, who roomed with Jackie Robinson, never again showed the form or the promise of his Rookie Season, and only remained in the Majors 5 seasons compiling a record of 30-12. After his playing days he became a dedicated advocate for Black players until his death in 2002.

Don Newcombe’s story is quite Different

look at Newcombe’s accomplishment

After being named Rookie of the Year in 1949, he was voted both MVP in 1956 and the first ever Cy Young winner that same year, Newcombe played in 4 All Star games, led the League in Shutouts in 1949, in Strikeouts in 1951. He won 20 games 3 different seasons 1951, 1955, 1956. in his 10 year career his record was 149-90, with 1129 Strikeouts, a 3.56 ERA and 136 complete games.

Surprising Newcombe has never come close to being voted into the MLB Hall of Fame. Many feel he deserves to be. Here is how describes the case for Don Newcombe being elected to the Hall of Fame …

“It is interesting that Newcombe has not done better in Hall of Fame voting. His highest total among BBWAA voters was 15%. However, he was considered mostly in the 1960′s and 1970′s at a time when some of those voters may have been racist. In the most recent voting by the Veterans Committee, he placed 19th with 10% of the vote.”

” The argument against Newcombe, of course, is that his career is just too short. But that’s unfair to a guy who was excluded from the white major leagues in his early days and played in the Negro Leagues and white minor leagues. Then, he served in the armed forces in mid-career, something that has been looked upon quite favorably in the case of white prospects for the Hall of Fame whose careers were shortened by military service. One can compare him to Jackie Robinson, who played only 10 years in the majors due to racism, and Larry Doby, who was in the majors for 13 years.”

” Newcombe was simply the first great black pitcher in the majors, at a time when racists felt that blacks were not supposed to be pitchers. He won an MVP award and a Cy Young Award, the sign of a great pitcher, and he had a high career win/loss percentage on teams that often went to the World Series. He was one of the best hitters ever among pitchers (hitting for a higher average lifetime than Pee Wee Reese), and he was an excellent fielder for a pitcher, with above-average range factors and fielding percentages. ”

Both Newcombe and Black

began their careers

in the Negro Leagues

and both played prominently

in the early days of

Baseball integration

World Series time

is a perfect time to

Remember them both.

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