- August 11, 1907
- 6' 3"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-11-1929 with BRO
Bobo Newsom, a massive, barrel-chested man, toured the major leagues for 20 years, traveling a path that reached eight clubs, rewinding to Washington five times, Brooklyn three times, and the Athletics twice. Bobo was what he called most of his teammates, because he was rarely around long enough to learn their names. He moved through baseball, talkative, boastful, with a supreme self-confidence he usually backed up with a superlative performance, only to have it negated somehow. Three seasons in a row he won 20 or more games, but four times he led the league in losses. He is one of two pitchers to win over 200 games and lose even more.
Misfortune plagued Newsom. He once pitched nine no-hit innings only to lose 2-1 on a 10th-inning hit; he was suspended by his own manager for throwing a spitball; he had his kneecap broken by a line drive yet hobbled on to a complete-game victory. He showed great courage in the 1940 World Series. He had a 21-5 record that year and pitched three complete games for the Tigers in the seven-game Series. His father died suddenly after seeing him win the opener. Tearfully, Newsom dedicated his next start to his dad and won that as well. But his fortunes reversed in Game Seven, as he lost to the Reds, 2-1.
" . . . whenever Bobo asked for more dough . . . Bobo always got it." - Newsom, talking about his relations with Clark Griffith of the Senators
Bobo Newsom pitched 20 years in the majors, making 17 stops in the big leagues with 9 different clubs (including the Washington Senators on 5 different occasions). One of baseball's colorful characters, he referred to himself in the third person and was often quoted saying humorous things.
After winning 15 games in the minors in 1928 and 19 for the Macon Peaches in 1929, Newsom reached the majors with the Brooklyn Robins, appearing in 5 games over two seasons. He spent 1932 back in the minors before being selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule V draft. He appeared in just one big league contest for the 1932 Cubs and was in the minors again in 1933, when he won 30 games for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.
Following the 1933 season, Newsom was once again chosen in the Rule V draft, this time by the St. Louis Browns. He stuck with the big league club this time and soon joined the Browns rotation. On September 18th, in a game against the Boston Red Sox, he thew nine innings of no-hit baseball, only to lose on two walks and a hit in the tenth. That year, he led the American League with 20 losses and 149 walks but posted a respectable 4.01 ERA. After losing his first six decisions for the Browns in 1935, he was sold to the Senators and ended up leading the AL in losses again, this time with 18.
"When the president comes to see Bobo pitch, Ol' Bobo ain't a-gonna disappoint him." - Newsom, explaining why he stayed in a game Franklin Roosevelt had come to see, in spite of suffering a fractured jaw during the game
With President Roosevelt in attendance, Newsom was the Senators' Opening Day starter in 1936. After suffering a broken jaw from a throw in the contest, he remained on the mound and threw a four-hit shutout win over the New York Yankees. He posted the first winning record of his career that year, and in the middle of the following summer, he was traded to the Red Sox as part of a five player swap. After the season, he was again dealt, this time back to the Browns.
In 1938, Newsom won 20 games for St. Louis and led the AL with 31 complete games despite posting a 5.08 ERA, the worst full-season mark of his career and the highest ever for a 20-game winner. He was selected for the All-Star Game and finished fifth in the Most Valuable Player voting that year. After starting off 3-1 for the Browns the next summer, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers, for whom he won 17 more, while again leading the American League with 24 complete games.
Newsom had his best season in 1940, going 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA for Detroit while putting together a 13-game winning streak, and hurled three scoreless innings in that summer's All-Star Game. The Tigers reached the World Series that fall, and he earned the complete game win in Game One. Sadly, Newsom's father died of a heart attack the following day. Instead of returning home, Bobo took to the mound in Game Five and hurled a three-hit shutout victory, which he dedicated to his father. He started again in Game Seven and gave up two runs in a third complete game but took the loss as Detroit fell to the Cincinnati Reds.
After becoming the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, earning $35,000 per year, Newsom lost 20 games for the Tigers in 1941. The following spring, his contract was purchased by the Senators, the first of five transactions involving him in two years time. He was acquired by the Philadelphia Athletics after the 1943 campaign and stuck with the club for a while, again leading the AL with 20 losses in 1945. Following another stint with the Senators, he was sold to the Yankees during the summer of 1947. He won 7 games down the stretch with New York and appeared that fall in two games of the 1947 World Series, which the Yankees won.
Newsom pitched for the New York Giants in 1948 before a three-year tour of duty back in the minors in the Southern Association. He recorded 46 wins over that time and made it back to the big leagues as a 44-year-old with the Senators in 1952. Shortly thereafter, he was acquired by the Athletics, for whom he ended his career as a 45 year old in 1953.
Overall, Newsom's pro baseball career spanned 26 seasons. He won 211 games and lost 222 in the majors, becoming the second pitcher, after Jack Powell, to win at least 200 with a losing record. He went 139-105 in the minors, totaling 951 professional games and 5,826 innings.
Al Benton is the only major-league pitcher to have faced both Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. Newsom was the only other pitcher whose career spanned that of both hitters. He did face Ruth in 1934; however, in 1951, Mantle's first year, Newsom was out of the majors, and in 1952, Newsom never faced the Yankees--and the one time he faced them in 1953, Mantle was out of the lineup with an injury.
Newsom died in Orlando, Florida at age 55 from cirrhosis of the liver and was buried in his home town of Hartsville, which has a street named in his honor.
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- Bobo Newsom