July 23, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Dodgers To Distribute Pins in Honor of Hall of Fame Manager at Tonight’s Game

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The first 40,000 fans in attendance at tonight’s Los Angeles Dodgers-San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium will receive a No. 24 pin for the jersey worn by the late Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston as the team’s Retired Numbers Pin Series continues.

Alston was named manager of the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in November 1953, replacing Charlie Dressen, who resigned after owner Walter O’Malley refused to give him a two-year contract.

Alston would manage the Dodgers for 23 seasons — all on one-year contracts — guiding the team to seven National League pennants and four World Series championships.

Alston was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 by the Veterans Committee, one year before he died at age 72.

Alston was “a gentleman who commanded tremendous respect,” Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who played for Alston in 1976, told City News Service.

“He was kind of a quiet giant,” Baker said.

Alston managed in the Dodgers’ minor league system for 10 seasons, including managing the Nashua (New Hampshire) Dodgers of the defunct Class B New England League in 1946, the first U.S.-based team in organized baseball in the 20th century to include black players — catcher Roy Campanella, a future Hall of Fame member, and pitcher Don Newcombe.

“He called a meeting of all the players in the clubhouse and said to them, ‘If I ever get put out of a ballgame, the manager of the team is going to be Roy Campanella. Do any of you have questions about that?’ ” Newcombe said.

The players did not have any questions, Newcombe, now a Dodgers special adviser to the chairman, recalled in an interview earlier this month.

“One night he got thrown out of a ballgame in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Roy became manager in the fifth or sixth inning,” Newcombe said.

“In the ninth inning, Roy sent me up to pinch-hit. I hit a home run with a man on base and we won the game. Roy became the first man of color in organized baseball to win as a manager and that was because of Walt Alston.

“I think Walt got put out of the ballgame on purpose that night just to make Roy the manager.”

Newcombe said that during the Dodgers’ 1955 World Series-winning season, Alston told him he was dropping him from the starting rotation and sending him to the bullpen.

Newcombe recalled telling Alston, “I’m not going to the bullpen” and Alston responding, “Take your uniform off and go home.”

Newcombe said he went to the clubhouse, took off his uniform and spent the next two days at his home.

“After thinking about it for two days, I said, ‘That’s a foolish move you made, so you better go back and apologize to the manager and let him know he’s the manager and get back on the ballclub,”‘ Newcombe said.

“I did that. The next night we were on our way to Philadelphia. I went to the bullpen and then he made me a starter. I wound up winning 20 and losing five that year.”

Alston “was totally different” than his successor, and fellow Hall of Fame member, Tommy Lasorda, Baker said.

“Alston didn’t talk,” Baker said. “Tommy talked all the time. Walter spoke with his eyes.”

Baker recalled Alston being “very positive.”

“He certainly believed in the power of belief,” said Baker, who said he takes that approach as a manager. “I tell my guys, ‘You’ve got to believe.’ “

view of dodger stadium and downtown Los Angeles from Elysian Park
view of dodger stadium and downtown Los Angeles from Elysian Park

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