Baseball History: Walter Alston

walter alston 1974Walter Alston won seven National League pennants and four World Series titles.

Alston was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. He posted 2040-1613 record as the manager of the Dodgers both in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles from 1954 to 1976. The 2,040 victories is currently the ninth on the all-time list.

In just his second year at the helm of the Dodgers, Alston ended Brooklyn’€™s World Series drought with championship in 1955. Prior to his arrival, Brooklyn had lost seven times in the World Series.

Once the Dodgers moved to the West Coast, he led them to crowns in 1959, 1963 and 1965. The Dodgers also made it to the World Series in 1956, 1966 and 1974.

As a player, Alston was with the St. Louis Cardinals and Dodgers for 13 years in the minors. His best season was in 1936 with Huntington in West Virginia that competed in the Middle Atlantic League.

In his second year as a player, the 24-year old Alston hit 35 homers and batted .326 as he led the squad in both categories.

There were a handful of future major leaguers on the team, including an 18-year old Marty Marion. Alston also got his shot at the big leagues on Sept. 27, 1936.

It was the final game of the season and Alston entered the contest against the Chicago Cubs in St. Louis as a defensive replacement at first base for future Hall of Fame member Johnny Mize.

Alston made an error and struck out in his only plate appearance. He never made it back to the majors as a player.

A few years later, Alston was a player-manager in the minors and began having success. He eventually made his way into the Dodgers organization and managed the Nashua Dodgers, which was an integrated team that included Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.

From 1950 to 1953, Alston led the Montreal Royals as they won a pair of International League titles. He replaced Charlie Dressen prior to the 1954 season and as the saying goes, “€œThe Rest is History.”€

walter alston 1964 frontAlston’€™s Legacy

Alston’€™s influence on the Dodgers and their history is tremendous. His No. 24 was retired by the club in 1977.

It is one of 10 numbers that is no longer used by the Dodgers. Alston managed the nine other players on the list that includes Pee Wee Reese (1), Tom Lasorda (2), Duke Snider (4), Jim Gilliam (19), Don Sutton (20), Sandy Koufax (32), Campanella (39), Jackie Robinson (42) and Don Drysdale (53).

All of those players are in the Hall of Fame except Gilliam, who was two-time all-star and the 1953 NL Rookie of the Year. Like his mentor, Lasorda was inducted as a manager.

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