Jaffe: Don Newcombe, integration pioneer and the first Black Ace

From Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on February 20, 2019:

He wasn’t the majors’ first African American pitcher, or even the first to pitch for the Dodgers, but Don Newcombe collected some very important firsts in his role as an integration pioneer. Though he spent just 10 seasons in the majors in a career bookended by the color line and his own alcoholism — with a two-year detour into the Army during the Korean War to boot — Newcombe was the Dodgers’ ace during a period when they were a National League powerhouse. After his playing days ended, he found sobriety, and spent over four decades as the Dodgers’ director of community relations, as a counselor for players in their battles against alcohol and substance abuse, and as an exemplary ambassador for the game.

Newcombe’s full, rich life came to a close on Tuesday. He died at the age of 92 after battling a lengthy illness.

Alongside Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, who reached the majors ahead of him, Newcombe endured the indignities that came with being at the forefront of integration — the racial epithets, segregated and substandard accommodations, orders not to fight back — while helping the racially mixed Dodgers become the class of the NL.

Read the fulll article here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/don-newcombe-integration-pioneer-and-the-first-black-ace-1926-2019/

Originally published: February 20, 2019. Last Updated: February 20, 2019.