Dodgers Dugout: The 25 greatest Dodgers of all time, No. 15: Walter Alston
Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to No. 15 in our countdown.
The 25 greatest Dodgers, No. 15: Walter Alston (10 first-place votes, 7,819 points)
Tommy Lasorda is far more famous, but you can make a solid case that Walter Alston is the greatest manager in Dodgers history.
Alston began managing the Dodgers in 1954 when they were still in Brooklyn, and remained manager until 1976, winning seven NL pennants (1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974) and four World Series titles, (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965), three of them in Los Angeles.
Alston was named NL manager of the year six times before retiring with a final record of 2,040-1,613. He had his number (24) retired by the team in 1977, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. When he got his 2,000th win in the 1976 season, he became only the fifth manager at the time to reach that milestone. There are only 10 now. He is one of five managers to win at least four World Series titles. The others: Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Connie Mack and Joe Torre.
Alston died at age of 72 on Oct. 1, 1984.
A great Walter Alston story, recounted in many books on the Dodgers, comes from the time when baseball teams still traveled by bus. One time, the bus the Dodgers were using was old and had no air conditioning. Several players spent the trip yelling and getting on Lee Scott, the club’s traveling secretary, for getting them such a rickety bus.
Alston, sitting in the front of the bus, stood up and said: “I don’t want to hear another word about this bus. And if anyone has something more to say about it, he can step off right now and we’ll settle it right here.” No one said a word after that.
Legendary Times columnist Jim Murray wrote the following when Alston retired:
“I don’t know whether you’re Republican or Democrat or Catholic or Protestant, and I’ve known you for 18 years,” Murray wrote of Alston. “You were as Middle-Western as a pitchfork. Black players who have a sure instinct for the closet bigot recognized immediately you didn’t know what prejudice was. There was no ‘side’ to Walter Alston. What you saw was what you got.”
You can read more about the life of Alston in this article.
Note: I received 8,382 ballots from newsletter readers who sent me their choices for the top 10 Dodgers of all time. Points were assigned based on ranking, with the first-place choice getting 12 points, second place getting 10, third place eight, down to one point for 10th place. After tabulating the ballots, I will be presenting the top 25 in points. We will be counting down Nos. 25 to 11, one each weekday, for the next three weeks. Then we will time the top 10 so No. 1 unveils March 29, the day the season opens. There will be separate newsletters for any news that comes out of spring training.
No. 14 had his greatest success as a Dodger in the 1970s. Who is it? Find out Tuesday.
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