Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe set a standard as the first pitcher to win Rookie of the Year in 1949, the National League MVP and the Cy Young Award.
Along with Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella, he was among the elite black players who integrated major league baseball, becoming the first African-American to pitch in an all-star game and the first in a World Series. Newcombe remembers how Robinson framed the challenge facing them.
“Jackie delivered the message,” he says. “I remember him saying, ‘Gentlemen, we are very bitter now over the years it has taken to reach this point, and we are going to be very much more bitter over what we are going to have to endure every day we are on the field, but one day—and I promise both of you—one day we are going to change that ‘i’ in bitter to an ‘e’ in better.’
“‘We have to do it,’” he said, “‘so let’s go out and get it done.’”
— Adapted from “Newk’s Triple Treasure,” Ross Newhan, Memories and Dreams, National Baseball Hall of Fame.