This Date In Baseball History- November 24, 1953- Brooklyn Dodgers name Walter’ Smokey’ Alston their new manager replacing the recently fired Chuck Dreesen. Walter Alston had the briefest of major league careers- it was almost as brief as the career of Archie ‘Moonlight’ Graham of Field Of Dreams fame. Graham played an inning in the field in one game- never got to bat. On September 27, 1936 Alston appeared in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals- he played two innings in the field and made an error. In his one plate appearance he struck out.
Walter Alston as a player, manager and player -manager spent 19 seasons in the minor leagues. Before being named the new Dodgers manager he had been the Dodgers AAA teams manager in Montreal from 1950-53. After firing Chuck Dressen the Dodgers offered the job to one of their players- shortstop Pee Wee Reese. Reese turned down the offer [and never did become a manager although many in baseball felt he would have been an outstanding one.] Alston who was the strong and silent type- his demeanor led to the nickname ‘The Quiet Man’ would end up managing the Dodgers- in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles for the next 23 seasons- winning 2040 games- seven National League pennants and four World Championships. He retired near the end of the 1976 season. In 1983 he would be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame- he would die in 1984 from complications of a heart attack at the age of 72.
Here is an oddity in baseball- and sports in general- Alston when he retired as Dodgers skipper- was replaced by Tommy Lasorda-[who personality wise was about as opposite from Alston as you could get]- Lasorda would manager the Dodgers until June 1996 when he had a heart attack and would retire. When Lasorda retired he was replaced by another Dodgers lifer- former shortstop Bill Russell. Russell would be be fired on June 21, 1998. From the time Alston was hired on November 24, 1953 until Russell was fired on June 21, 1998- the Dodgers went 44 1/2 seasons without firing a manager. In sports today the Pittsburgh Steelers have a streak going- since firing Bill Austin after the 1968 season- they are into their 53rd season in a row without firing a head coach- they have had three coaches- Chuck Noll won 4 Super Bowls before retiring, Bill Cowher won a Super Bowl before retiring and the current coach Mike Tomlin has won a Super Bowl. The Steelers like the Dodgers with Alston and Lasorda- have picked their leaders well and have been patient.
I read somwhere that Alston never signed a contract for more than one year.
I think that is right. So by today’s standards he was a lame duck manager every year. It worked out ok
can you imagine this kind of thing working today? no way would any manager stand for it.
No not at all. That was when it was some loyalty… and of course the money wasn’t crazy