- August 11, 1907
- 6' 3"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-11-1929 with BRO
A flamboyant style and wagging tongue led to the many travels of Bobo Newsom, who changed uniforms 16 times in his 20-year career. Finally on a winner, he won 21 games for the pennant-winning Tigers in 1940. The burly right-hander won Game One of the World Series, pitched a shutout in Game Five just days after his father died, and came back to duel Paul Derringer in Game Seven. Unfortunately, he lost the critical game, 2-1, but pitched what he called the best game of his career. Often pitching for mediocre teams, Newsom still managed to win 20 games for the seventh-place Browns in 1938, and garnered 211 victories in his long career.
"Congratulations on buying pennant insurance." — wire message sent by Bobo to Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher when the Dodgers purchased Newsom in September of 1942. "I don't go in for strikeouts any more. It doesn't get you anything. Look at that Bob Feller, wearing himself out getting strikeouts. It's for no good." discussing his pitching strategy, 1946
Newsom made his professional debut with Raleigh in the Piedmont League in 1928, going 0-5 before being released and latching on with a team in the East Carolina loop. He won 15 games there and signed with Macon for the 1929 season, where he won 19 games and earned a brief three-game audition with the Dodgers at the end of the year. He split 1930 between Macon, Jersey City and Brooklyn, where he pitched three innings of relief in his second major league trial. Despite his brimming confidence, Newsom spent the entire 1931 season in the minors, with Little Rock, where he notched 16 victories and led the league in strikeouts. In 1932, he had moderate success with Albany of the International League, but earned a look from the Cubs, a very brief look - one inning. He was 24 years old and was most likely ready to earn his stripes in the big leagues, but no one was willing to take a chance on him. In what must have been a rewarding season in many ways, Newsom spent all of 1933 with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League. The league was just a step below the majors, and some of the best players were earning more money than they could in the major leagues. A brash veteran of five minor league campaigns, Newsom won 30 games for LA and led the league in K's. He made sure to get as much as he could from the teamm owners, which included a nice bonus when he won his 30th game. Finally, someone at the big league level had to take notice of the strong right-hander nicknamed "Buck," which was an appropriate label considering his love for money. That someone was the lowly St. Louis Browns, who inserted Newsom into their patchwork rotation for the 1934 season. On a team that finished last in the league in runs scored (nearly two runs less per game than the Yankees), Newsom battled to a 16-20 record. He was in the big leagues to stay. After he started the next season at 0-6, despite an ERA almost exactly the league average, St. Louis dealt him to Washington, where he had his first encounter with the "Grey Fox," Clark Griffith. The Nats were a team on the slide, but Newsom won 11 games for them in '35 and went 17-15 in 1936. He was dealt to Boston the following season, and his nomadic ways were beginning to crystalize.
Leading the Tigers trio of 30-something righties that included Tommy Bridges and Schoolboy Rowe, Newsom was the biggest winner in 1940, notching 21 wins against five defeats. He finished second in the league in ERA, with a mark of 2.83. In late September, Newsom pitched two innings of relief in the opener of a doubleheader against the White Sox, and pitched a complete game victory in the second game. In a reversal of fortune, Newsom led the league with 20 losses the following season.
Colorful pitcher Bobo Newsom served five different stints with the Washington Senators, and twirled three different times for the St. Louis Browns.
Though he changed teams 16 times in his career, Bob Newsom was only traded four times.
On May 18, 1938, Newsom struck out six consecutive batters to equal an American League record. Unfortunately, Joe DiMaggio belted two homers, and the Yankees defeated Newsom's Browns, 11-7.
One writer noted that Newsom was "gifted with a rare sense of humor into which he managed to weave with a seeming lack of fostentation an amazingly exalted opinion of himself." Teammate Charlie Gehringer said of Bobo: "He also was probably the biggest character on the Tigers. He was a funny guy. A great jokester. He could do Amos and Andy so well that if you didn't look at him, you'd think you were hearing the radio. He was always pulling some trick, especially on Schoolie. Schoolie wasn't too quick with a repartee, so Bobo was always getting the best of him. Nailed his spikes down to his locker once, and things like that. Just drove Schoolie crazy." "Good pitcher, though," Gehringer continued, "he probably was on more ball clubs than anybody that ever pitched, but he certainly had a great arm and a great heart for the game. Pretty good beer drinker, but other than that, he really put it all out."
The Durocher Mutiny
In 1943, his second season with the Dodgers, Bobo was rolling along with a 9-4 record when he took the mound in early July to face the Pirates. The Bucs shelled Newsom early in the game, but rather than take it out on his opponents, the agitated pitcher made a scene with his teammates. Storming off the mound after another Pirate run tallied, Bobo got into a heated argument with his catcher, Bobby Bragan, over a dropped third strike that had allowed a run to scamper home. Within a few moments, Newsom was ejected by home plate umpire Larry Goetz, but the pitcher continued his tirade in the dugout face-to-face with manager Leo Durocher. The next day, when the Dodgers learned that Bobo had been suspended by Durocher for "insubordination," a storm erupted in the clubhouse. Led by Arky Vaughan, the Dodgers walked in to Durocher's office and tossed their jerseys on his table. The team refused to take the field unless Newsom was re-instated. After Newsom addressed his teammates and heads cooled, the Dodgers, with the exception of Vaughan, all agreed to take the field. Having seen enough of what Newsom could do to a ballclub, Branch Rickey traded Bobo to the St. Louis Browns five days later.
A Brief Time Out
Tiger second baseman Charlie Gehringer, from the book
Newsom was regarded asone of the best negotiators of his era, and he rarely backed down in a salry dispute. He and Senators owner Clark Griffith had numerous disputes, and eventually theyir friendship, which was once very strong, disintegrated... Newsom led the league in losses four times during his career, and won 20 games three times.
- Bobo Newsom