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Walter Alston

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Walter Emmons Alston (December 1, 1911 - October 1, 1984), nicknamed "Smokey," was an American baseball player and manager. He was born in Venice, Ohio.


Walter Alston's number 24 was retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977

Alston was a first baseman with the St Louis Cardinals in the 1936 season. He played in his only major league game on September 27, as a substitute for future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize, who had ea been ejected from the game. The Cardinals' other first-baseman Rip Collins had already been used as a pinch-hitter. Alston struck out in his only major league at bat. After returning to the minor leagues for several years as a player and then as a manager--including a stint as the player-manager for the first U.S.-based integrated baseball team after 1898, the Nashua Dodgers of the class-B New England League--he was named manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1954 season.

A reporter once asked Alston about his playing record; he said, "Well, I came up to bat for the Cards back in '36, and Lon Warneke struck me out. That's it." (He also played first base--two fielding chances, one error.)

Alston won seven National League pennants in his 23 years tenure as Dodgers manager. In 1955 he led Brooklyn to the pennant and its only World Series championship; the team repeated as National League champions in 1956. After the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, Alston led the team to pennants in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1974, and three more world championships (1959, 1963, 1965). He was the first Dodger manager to win a World Series. He is the only manager to participate in 2 tie-breaker playoffs, defeating the Milwaukee Braves 2 games to none in 1959, and losing 2 games to 1 in 1962 to the San Francisco Giants. His uniform number 24 was retired by the Dodgers.

Named Manager of the Year six times, Alston also guided a victorious NL All-Star squad a record seven times. He retired after the 1976 season with 2,063 wins (2,040 in the regular season and 23 in the postseason).

As a manager, Alston was noted for his studious approach to the game (he had taught school in the off-season while in the minors) and for signing 23 one-year contracts with the Dodgers at a time when multi-year contracts were becoming the norm in the sport.

Walter Alston was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 along with Third-baseman (and AL batting champion) George Kell. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and died in Oxford at the age of 72 in 1984 from the after-effects of a heart attack suffered in 1983.

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