Walter Emmons Alston (December 1, 1911 – October 1, 1984), nicknamed "Smokey", was an American baseball player and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). He is best known as the manager of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers between 1954 and 1976. In 23 years as a major league manager, Alston never signed a contract longer than one year. He had a calm, reticent demeanor, for which he was sometimes also known as "The Quiet Man".
Alston grew up in rural Ohio and lettered in baseball and basketball at Miami University in Ohio. Though his MLB playing career consisted of one game and one at-bat with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1936, he played and managed for several seasons in minor league baseball. His service included a stint as manager of the Nashua Dodgers, the first integrated professional team in modern baseball. He was promoted to manage the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 after several successful seasons in Brooklyn's Class AAA minor league teams.
As a major league manager, Alston led Dodgers teams to seven National League (NL) pennants and four world championships. His 1955 team was the only World Series championship team while the club was in Brooklyn; they clinched the NL pennant earlier in the calendar year than any previous pennant winner in league history. Alston retired with more than 2,000 career wins and managed NL All-Star teams to seven victories. He was selected as Manager of the Year six times.
Alston was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. He suffered a heart attack that year, was hospitalized for a month and was unable to attend his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He never fully recovered and he died at a hospital in Oxford, Ohio on October 1, 1984.
By Dean Hanley
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