Wednesday, June 9, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats Hal Newhouser


The player: Hal Newhouser is often considered to be a player who took advantage of the weakened competition of wartime baseball. However, he was a dominant pitcher for several years after the war as well. Newhouser, who was rejected from the service multiple times due to a heart condition, came up with the Tigers in 1939 and struggled through his first few years of pitching, mostly due to a lack of control. He worked with Paul Richards to improve his pitching and in 1944 29-9 with a 2.22 ERA, his first of three straight 20-win seasons. In 1944 and 1945 he won back-to-back MVP awards, still the only pitcher to do so. Newhouser remained a dominant pitcher when the regulars came back after the war, winning at least 17 games each year through the end of the decade with low ERAs. Overall he went 207-150 with a 3.06 ERA.

The man: Newhouser was known for his temper and attitude early in his career, earning the derisive nicknames "Prince Hal" and "Hurricane Hal" for his tantrums, which largely subsided when he became a dominant pitcher. He was so dominant in the late 1940s that in 1947 the Yankees, at the time needing some pitching, supposedly discussed a trade with the Tigers where they would acquire Newhouser for aging slugger Joe DiMaggio. Newhouser later became a very successful scout, signing Milt Pappas and Dean Chance, among others. A Michigan native, Newhouser was an Astros scout in 1992 and implored the Astros to draft local star shortstop Derek Jeter. When the team chose Phil Nevin instead, Newhouser quit.

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Newhouser. His last card as an active player was 1953 Topps #228.

1 comment:

  1. Kind of weird to think that Jeter could've been an Astro. That would've changed things for quite a few teams.