Hal Newhouser

Harold Newhouser (May 20, 1921 – November 10, 1998), nicknamed "Prince Hal," was an American professional baseball player. In Major League Baseball (MLB), he pitched 17 seasons on the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, from 1939 through 1955. Newhouser was an All-Star for six seasons[lower-alpha 1] and was considered to be the most dominating pitcher of the World War II era of baseball, winning the pitching triple crown for the Tigers in 1945. To date, he is also the only pitcher in MLB history ever to win two consecutive MVP awards. Newhouser was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Hal Newhouser
Born: (1921-05-20)May 20, 1921
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died: November 10, 1998(1998-11-10) (aged 77)
Southfield, Michigan, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 29, 1939, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
May 3, 1955, for the Cleveland Indians
MLB statistics
Win–loss record207–150
Earned run average3.06
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodVeterans Committee

After his retirement from baseball, Newhouser stepped away from the sport for 20 years, serving as a bank vice president. He later worked as a scout for several MLB teams, including the Houston Astros. Angered when they rebuffed his recommendation to draft future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter in favor of Phil Nevin, he quit shortly after.

Early life

Newhouser was a schoolboy star at Wilbur Wright High School in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Before he was approached by professional baseball teams, he had been saving money to attend a trade school by working several jobs. The young Newhouser sold newspapers, collected pop bottles and worked in a bowling alley before signing on in professional baseball.[1]

He was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1939 at the age of 18. A Tigers scout offered a $500 signing bonus to Newhouser, who found the sum of money to be unimaginable. Ten minutes after he signed, someone arrived from the Cleveland Indians; that employee had been prepared to offer $15,000 to his parents in addition to a $4,000 car.[1]

Playing career

Early career

Newhouser made his debut for Detroit on September 29, 1939. In 1940, he earned a spot on the Tigers out of spring training. In his first two full big-league seasons, the young left-hander experienced control problems, walking more batters than he struck out while posting win–loss records of 9–9 and 9–11. He improved in 1942 and 1943, posting excellent earned run averages (ERAs), but he still lost more than he won on a team with a weak offense.[2]

As World War II got under way, the Tigers moved up in the standings because several of their top players, including Newhouser, were classified as 4-F (ineligible to be drafted). Newhouser was 4-F due to a leaky heart valve; he attempted to join the service anyway but was turned down several times.[3]

He blossomed in 1944, becoming a dominant pitcher in wartime baseball. That season, Newhouser rang up a 29–9 record, leading the league in wins and strikeouts (187).[4] His 2.22 ERA was second in the league, as were his 25 complete games and six shutouts. The Tigers jumped into contention, finishing second in the American League, with Newhouser named MVP. Newhouser won the first Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award in 1944.[5]

By the 1945 season, Newhouser had been selected for three consecutive AL All-Star teams. The 1945 All-Star Game was cancelled on April 24 because of travel restrictions and seven out of eight scheduled interleague games were played in place of the All-Star Game on July 9 and 10 to support the American Red Cross and War Relief fund.[6][7] Newhouser became the first pitcher to repeat as MVP that season and helped the team win the World Series. He won the pitcher's Triple Crown, leading the AL in wins (25, against nine losses), ERA (1.81) and strikeouts (212); he also led the league in innings pitched, games started, complete games and shutouts.[8] Newhouser pitched four innings of relief on the season's final day as Detroit rallied for the pennant. Newhouser won the second Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award.[5] He became the youngest player (24) to win the award in two consecutive years. In that year's World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Newhouser won two games, including a complete-game victory in the deciding seventh game.[9]

Later career

Hal Newhouser's number 16 was retired by the Detroit Tigers in 1997.

In 1946, he went 26–9 with a 1.94 ERA, again leading the league in wins and ERA.[10] His 275 strikeouts was second in the league. Newhouser was runner-up in the MVP race to Ted Williams. Newhouser continued to rate among the game's best pitchers for the next five years. He won 17 games in 1947, led the AL with 21 wins in 1948 and rang up an 18–11 mark in 1949. After a 15–13 season in 1950, he hurt his arm and his workload was cut significantly.

After being released by the Tigers following the 1953 season, Newhouser signed on with the Cleveland Indians and was their top long reliever in 1954, when Cleveland won 111 games and the pennant. In his final big-league hurrah, he posted a 7–2 mark with a 2.54 ERA, and got to pitch in his second World Series. He ended his career with a record of 207–150 and a 3.06 ERA. He is the only pitcher ever to win consecutive MVP awards.[11]

As a hitter, Newhouser had a .201 career batting average (201-for-999) with 70 runs, 2 home runs, 81 RBI and 89 bases on balls. Defensively, he recorded a .971 fielding percentage covering 488 games pitched.

Newhouser tried to vary his pitch selection. Even if he threw a batter the same variety of pitch twice in a row, he would always change speeds slightly, to keep the hitters guessing.[12]

Later life

A statue of Newhouser in Comerica Park

Newhouser spent his first 20 years after retiring from baseball away from the sport, working as a bank vice president in Pontiac, Michigan.[13]

Eventually, he served as a scout for the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Houston Astros. As a scout with the Orioles, Newhouser discovered Milt Pappas, a Detroit high schooler who went on to win 209 games in an All-Star career—two more than Newhouser did. He also signed future Cy Young Award winner Dean Chance, who later earned the trophy with the Los Angeles Angels in 1964.[14]

While with the Astros, Newhouser was credited with discovering Derek Jeter, whom the Astros passed over for Phil Nevin.[15] He quit his job with the Astros after they ignored his advice to draft Jeter,[16] though he had planned to retire after that season in any case.[17]

In 1992, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His induction class included Tom Seaver, Rollie Fingers and Bill McGowan. The ceremony was attended by a then-record-setting crowd of 20,000 people.[18] The Tigers retired Newhouser's number 16 in 1997. He died on November 10, 1998, in a hospital in Southfield, Michigan. He had been ill with emphysema and heart problems.[1]

Personal life

Newhouser was married to his wife, the former Beryl Margaret Steele (1922–2012), from 1941 until his death. They had two daughters, Charlene and Sherrill.[19][20]

During his playing days, Newhouser's teammates nicknamed him "Prince Hal" because of the way he carried himself.[21]

See also


  1. MLB cancelled the 1945 All-Star Game and did not name All-Stars that season.


  1. Goldstein, Richard (November 11, 1998). "Hal Newhouser, 77, a Hall of Fame pitcher". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  2. "Hal Newhouser Stats". BaseballReference.com. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  3. "Hal Newhouser Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  4. "Hal Newhouser Stats". BaseballReference.com. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  5. Pitcher of the Year
  6. Baseball Did You Know? – VII, 1945 All Star Game Replacements Retrieved July 28, 2015
  7. Baseball Almanac Retrieved July 8, 2015
  8. "Hal Newhouser Stats". BaseballReference.com. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  9. "Hall of Famer Newhouser dies". Los Angeles Times. November 11, 1998. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  10. "Hal Newhouser Stats". BaseballReference.com. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  11. "MLB Most Valuable Player MVP Awards & Cy Young Awards Winners". BaseballReference.com. Sports Reference, LLC.
  12. Garver, Ned; Bozman, Bill; Joyner, Ronnie (2003). Touching All the Bases. Pepperpot Productions, Inc. p. 133. ASIN B00B6JBVV6.
  13. Olney, Buster (August 23, 2004). "Jeter: Dynasty's child". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  14. Wancho, Joseph, et al (eds.) (2014). Pitching to the Pennant: The 1954 Cleveland Indians. University of Nebraska Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-0803254718. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  15. Buster Olney (August 23, 2004). "Jeter: Dynasty's child". ESPN. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  16. Olney, Buster (October 17, 2001). "Baseball – What Can We Do Next? Just Watch Jeter Play". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  17. Nightengale, Bob (April 1, 2014). "Hal Newhouser, Phil Nevin and how Derek Jeter almost didn't become a Yankee". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  18. Holtzman, Jerome (August 4, 1992). "Constant change keeps Hall Of Fame up to date". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  19. "Pitcher Newhouser Gets Marriage License". The Washington Post. December 6, 1941. p. 85.
  20. Guidi, Gene (November 11, 1998). ""Prince Hal" Was Crafty Competitor, Top Lefty". The Detroit Free Press. p. 2A.
  21. Stewart, Mark. "Hal Newhouser". sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Retrieved October 8, 2018.

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