Bats: Left • Throws: Left
6-2, 180lb (188cm, 81kg)
Born: May 20, 1921 in Detroit, MI
Died: November 10, 1998 (Aged 77-174d) in Southfield, MI
Buried: Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens, Novi, MI
High School: Wilbur Wright HS (Detroit, MI)
Debut: September 29, 1939 (Age 18-132d, 7,074th in MLB history)
vs. CLE 5.0 IP, 3 H, 4 SO, 4 BB, 3 ER, L
Last Game: May 3, 1955 (Age 33-348d)
vs. NYY 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 SO, 2 BB, 0 ER
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1992. (Voted by Veteran’s Committee)
View Hal Newhouser’s Page at the Baseball Hall of Fame (plaque, photos, videos).
Full Name: Harold Newhouser
Nicknames: Prince Hal
View Player Bio from the SABR BioProject
Relatives: Cousin of Ken Macha
One of the greatest pitchers in Tiger history, Hal Newhouser is the only hurler to win back-to-back MVP Awards. The lefty won games five and seven of the 1945 World Series for Detroit. He was the best pitcher not to miss time during World War II, and he continued his mastery after the players returned from overseas, narrowly missing a third straight MVP to Ted Williams in 1946 when he won 26 games. A congenital heart ailment kept Newhouser out of the service and for a time threatened his baseball career. The popular hurler, known as “Prince Hal” to Detroit faithful, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Newhouser signed with the Tigers for $400 while a Detroit schoolboy star. Moments later, the story goes, Cleveland Indians superscout Cy Slapnicka arrived to offer $15,000 and a new car, but the deal was done. Newhouser appeared briefly in the majors at age 18 in 1939 and returned for good in 1941. But he recorded only a 25-43 record through 1943, when he led the league in walks. Failure frustrated Newhouser, an intense competitor, and he alienated teammates with his tantrums. But he resolved to control both his behavior and his pitching, and he won a career-high 29 games in 1944. Pinpoint control of his fastball and overhand curve became Newhouser’s trademark. “He is smart and tough in any pinch,” said the Yankees’ Bill Dickey. Newhouser won two complete-game victories, including the seventh-game clincher, in the 1945 World Series against the Cubs. He engaged in many classic matchups with the Indians’ Bob Feller, the dominant righthander of the era. The “big one,” in Newhouser’s words, came on the final day of the 1948 season, when he outpitched Feller on one day’s rest to force Cleveland into a playoff with Boston for the AL title. The victory was a league-best 21st for Newhouser, but also marked the beginning of shoulder trouble that would limit his effectiveness after one more 18-victory season in 1949. Newhouser closed his career as Feller’s teammate in 1954, when he won seven, saved seven, and appeared in one more World Series.
Newhouser had a 34-52 record to show for his first five seasons before exploding to win 29 games in 1944, 25 in 1945 and 26 in 1946. For those three seasons he was 80-27, improving his career mark to 114-79. In his 17-year career, Newhouser had ten losing or break-even seasons (he was 66-85 in those ten years), and enjoyed seven winning campaigns, in which he was 141-65 (a .684 winning percentage). In 1945 his 25 wins, 1.81 ERA and 212 strikeouts led the American League. For his career, he won two ERA titles, led the league in wins four times, strikeouts twice, complete games twice, and shutouts once (eight in 1945). In the ’45 World Series against the Cubs he was 2-1 with a 6.10 ERA and 22 K’s in 20 2/3 innings. He was rocked for seven earned runs in less than three innings in the opener, but rebounded to pitch complete game wins in Game Five and Seven, helping Detroit to their second World Series title.
In 1947, the Yankees offered Joe DiMaggio to the Tigers in a trade for Hal Newhouser, and Detroit refused.
Hal Newhouser was 80-27 over a three-year stretch (1944-1946).
Top Ten Finishes
Wins – 7 Times (Led leage in 1944,1945, 1946 & 1948)
ERA – 7 Times (Led league in 1945 & 1946)
Strikeouts – 9 Times (Led league in 1944 & 1945)
Winning % – 4 Times
Games – 6 Times
Starts – 6 Times (Led league in 1945)
Innings – 6 Times (Led league in 1945)
Complete Games – 7 Times (Led league in 1945 & 1947)
Shutouts- 6 Times (Led league in 1945)
Saves – Twice
Newhouser was released by the Tigers in early 1954, and latched on with the Indians. He pitched very well for Cleveland in 1954, going 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA, mostly out of the bullpen.
Early in 1946, after Newhouser won his second straight MVP Award, he was offered $500,000 to jump to the Mexican League, started by maverick millionaire Jorge Pasquel. According to Newhouser, Pasquel agreed to place $300,000 in Newhouser’s bank account immediately, and pay the left-hander $200,000 over three seasons. Hewhouser wrestled with the offer, talked with manager Steve O’Neill and Tiger owner Walter Briggs about it, but decided to stay in Detroit. Briggs gave him an estimated $10,000 bonus and a fat new contract following the ’46 campaign. The Mexican League, which successfully attracted a few major leaguers south of the border, proved to be a bust. Though the actaul figure of his 1947 contract was never released, it was high enough to satisfy Newhouser. “All I can say is that it was thousands more [than the $60,000 newspapers were reporting). I’ve always felt I owe Mr. Briggs a lot of victories to repay him,” Newhouser told columnist Lyall Smith in 1951. In 1951, Newhouser seriously considered quitting baseball to take a job with an undisclosed Detroit firm for a salary of $30,000 and benefits. Once again, he determined to stay in baseball. Newhouser finally retired in 1955.
After retirement, Newhouser worked as a scout for the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and the Detroit Tigers. While with the Astros, Newhouser was credited with discovering Derek Jeter, whom the Astros passed over for Phil Nevin. Newhouser discovered, as a scout with the Orioles, a Detroit high schooler named Milt Pappas, who went on to win 209 games in his career — two more than Newhouser did, and Dean Chance who also had a long baseball career, including winning the Cy Young Award for the Los Angeles Angels.
The Detroit Tigers retired Newhouser’s number 16 in 1997, and he died one year later.
Notable Events and Chronology for Hal Newhouser Career
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