Monday, June 05, 2006

June 5th, 1977

Dodgers Retired Number

The number was twenty-four, and it belonged to Walter Alston, the man who had been their manager until the very end of the previous season all the way back to 1954. Alston's record was quite remarkable as a manager; going across a period of more than two decades, Alston won the eighth most games in history with the seventeenth best winning percentage. He won four World Series with the Dodgers--including their first ever in Brooklyn--and two other pennants.

The list of players managed by Alston reads like an all-time team for the Dodgers: Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Don Sutton are only some of the names who played (and prospered) under "Smokey," as Alston was popularly known.

Alston's retirement cleared the way for Tommy Lasorda to take over as skipper, he would hold that position for another twenty years, giving the Dodgers an almost unparalleled run of consistency at the head of the team, a consistency they've worked hard at throwing away, having five managers in the ten years since Lasorda retired. It's enough to make Alston, who died in 1981, roll over in his grave.

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