Walter Alston

The Rise of a Manager from the Minors to the Baseball Hall of Fame


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About the Book

Walter “Smokey” Alston is best known for his long and successful tenure as manager of the Dodgers–first in Brooklyn, then in Los Angeles. Yet few fans are aware of his years in the minors, where he honed the skills that would make him famous. Raised in rural Ohio, Alston graduated from Miami University, where he was noticed by scouts for the St. Louis Cardinals. Signed in 1935, he played on minor league teams in the Cardinals’ system. He went to bat in the majors just once–and struck out. But Cardinals President Branch Rickey recognized other talents in Alston and made him a player-manager for several clubs. He steadily produced winning teams and in 1946 led the racially integrated Nashua “Little” Dodgers to a championship. In 1953, he was tapped to run the big club and over the next 23 seasons led the Dodgers to nine pennants and four World Series wins. This book traces Alston’s rise through the minor and major leagues to become a Hall of Famer with more than 2000 career wins.

About the Author(s)

Alan H. Levy is a professor of American history at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. In addition to his writings about sports (football, boxing, baseball), he is the author of several books on American music, including a biography of the noted composer Edward MacDowell.

Bibliographic Details

Alan H. Levy

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8210-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4205-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. A Small Town in Rural Ohio 13
2. Mr. Rickey Had an Eye for Talent 22
3. Quiet Integration in New Hampshire 42
4. A Corking Good Manager 56
5. Who’s He? 75
6. Welcome to Brooklyn 84
7. On Top in Brooklyn but Not for Long 96
8. A New Home 106
9. Leo and the Critics 115
10. Winning Is Always the Best Response 131
11. Midst the Days of Hope and Rage 148
12. Extra Innings and ­Post-Game Analysis 174
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography 203
Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The author sets out to shine a light on Alston as a person and manager, and succeeds.”—Mark Armour, author of Joe Cronin: A Life in Baseball