For decades, Don Newcombe was of the most ubiquitous figures at Los Angeles Dodgers home games. One of the most prolific of the franchise’s last living links to the days of Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Newcombe also cultivated genuine friendships with many current players.
Kenley Jansen, one of Newcombe’s closest friends on the present-day Dodgers, also changed his Twitter profile picture to an image of the legendary pitcher. A private memorial service was held for Newcombe at Dodger Stadium this week, and several Dodgers received gifts from Newcombe’s wife, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
Always impeccably dressed, Newcombe’s suits were usually topped off by a color-coordinated Panama hat. His wife, Karen, passed some of those hats on to Kenley Jansen, Russell Martin, Rich Hill and David Freese among others.
“He lived his life. He was 92 years old,” Jansen said of Newcombe. “So I kind of feel selfish saying I wish he was still here. He lived his life but he’s still here with me. We’re all going to continue to keep him in our hearts.”
Freese is one of the newest Dodgers on the roster, having come over in a late-season trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018. Martin, who was drafted by and played his first five Major League seasons with the Dodgers, returned to Los Angeles in January via trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
That Jansen would receive a memento is hardly a surprise as he was among those particularly close to the icon. After Newcombe’s death, tributes poured out from the likes of Jansen, Justin Turner, Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw as well as retired legends such as Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully.
The current players spoke about Newcombe’s sincereness and closeness to their own families, while Koufax said Newcombe been a mentor than a dear friend to him. Scully lauded the pitcher’s victory over alcoholism after retirement and work to help others overcome the addiction.