Hal Newhouser, the Detroit Tigers' Hall of Fame left-hander and the only pitcher to win two consecutive Most Valuable Player awards, died yesterday at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. He was 77.
Newhouser, who lived in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., had been suffering from emphysema and heart problems, his family said.
Featuring a high fastball, Newhouser was the American League's top left-hander of the 1940's. He posted records of 29-9 in 1944 and 25-9 in 1945, winning the m.v.p. award each season, and had a 26-9 mark in 1946. Pitching for the Tigers from 1939 to 1953, then for Cleveland in his final two seasons, he had a lifetime record of 207-150.
He threw a complete game, striking out 10, in pitching the Tigers to a Game 7 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the 1945 World Series. As a reliever, he played a key role for the Indians' 1954 pennant winners.
A native of Detroit, Newhouser was thrilled to sign with his hometown team as a teen-ager when a scout offered a $500 bonus.
''That was during the Depression, and I was trying to earn money to go to a trade school by selling newspapers, setting pins in a bowling alley and collecting pop bottles to get the deposit on them,'' Newhouser recalled. ''I thought it was unbelievable to get that much money for playing baseball.''
But he might have been better off waiting, since a representative of the Indians arrived at the Newhouser home 10 minutes later and ''told me they were going to give my parents $15,000 and a new car worth $4,000.''
Newhouser was often matched against the Indians' Bob Feller, the league's top right-hander of the 1940's. On the final day of the 1948 regular season, Newhouser bested Feller, 7-1, before more than 74,000 at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium to drop the Indians into a tie for first place with the Red Sox. Newhouser was pitching on short rest and had experienced arm problems, but ''I ended up throwing one of the best games of my life.''
Newhouser had planned to be sworn into the Army Air Forces on the Briggs Stadium pitching mound during World War II, but was deferred because of a heart problem. Because his two m.v.p. years came when baseball manpower was depleted by the war, he was labeled by some as a ''wartime player'' and was not selected for the Hall of Fame until 1992, when he was voted in by the veterans' committee. But he remained a dominant pitcher after the war, averaging more than 19 victories a season from 1946 to 1950.
Following his retirement, Newhouser was a scout and a bank executive. In July 1997, he became the only pitcher whose uniform number (16) was retired by the Tigers.
He is survived by his wife, Beryl; a brother, Richard; two daughters, Charlene Newhouser and Sherrill Robinson, and a grandson.
Newhouser's determination complemented his talent: he completed 212 of his 374 starts.
''You couldn't get the ball away from him -- he hated to be pulled from a game,'' the former Tiger catcher Joe Ginsberg recalled.
''I remember one game when I pitched in Yankee Stadium and gave up five runs in the first inning,'' Newhouser once said. ''It would have been easy to quit, but I shut 'em out the rest of the way and we came back and won the game.''
His philosophy: ''Never give up and never give in.''