Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#8 Walter Alston - Brooklyn Dodgers


Walter Emmons Alston
Brooklyn Dodgers
Manager


Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'2"  Weight:  195
Born:  December 1, 1911, Venice, OH
Signed:  Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1935
Major League Teams:  St. Louis Cardinals 1936
As a Manager:  Brooklyn Dodgers 1954-1957; Los Angeles Dodgers 1958-1976
Died:  October 1, 1984, Oxford, OH (age 72)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1983

As a player, Walter Alston had one at-bat with the 1936 Cardinals, striking out against Cubs pitcher Lon Warneke.

In his 23 seasons managing the Dodgers, Alston led the team to seven National League pennants and four World Championships in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965.  Alston's Dodgers finished with winning records in 19 of those 23 seasons and his 2,040 wins as a manager led to his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1983.  The three-time National League Manager of the Year (1955, 1959 and 1963) was known for his use of statistical analysis and for signing 23 one-year contracts, eschewing any long-term deals with the Dodgers.

With a few games left in the 1976 season, Alston stepped down as the Dodgers manager, handing over the job to Tommy Lasorda who would manage the team until 1995.  Alston's #24 was retired by the Dodgers in 1977.

Building the Set
February 14, 1999 in Raleigh, NC - Card #178
I feel as if I probably overpaid for this card, paying $20 to a dealer at the Raleigh Sports Card & Memorabilia Show back in early 1999.  This was the only card from the 1956 Topps set I bought that day and I would have called back home to my Dad after the show to inform him of the purchase so that he could update his copy of our checklist.

I lived in Raleigh for a few years in the late '90s/early '00s, and the fact that I was attending a baseball card show on Valentine's Day speaks volumes as to my situation in 1999.

The Card
This is one of only two manager cards in the 1956 Topps set, with the other manager card belonging to the Phillies' Mayo Smith (#60).  Strangely enough, Topps saw fit to include one card for a coach, featuring Orioles coach Harry Brecheen (#229) in Series 3.  Here's a list of all the managers who could have had cards in the 1956 Topps set, in order of each team's finish in the 1955 season:

  • Dodgers - Walter Alston
  • Braves - Charlie Grimm (1955-56) or Fred Haney (1956)
  • Giants - Leo Durocher (1955) or Bill Rigney (1956)
  • Phillies - Mayo Smith 
  • Reds - Birdie Tebbetts
  • Cubs - Stan Hack
  • Cardinals - Eddie Stanky (1955), Harry Walker (1955) or Fred Hutchinson (1956)
  • Pirates - Fred Haney (1955) or Bobby Bragan (1956)
  • Yankees - Casey Stengel
  • Indians - Al Lopez
  • White Sox - Marty Marion
  • Red Sox - Pinky Higgins
  • Tigers - Bucky Harris
  • Athletics - Lou Boudreau
  • Orioles - Paul Richards
  • Senators - Chuck Dressen
There's an uncorrected error on the back of Alston's card, stating he had never played in a big league game as Topps overlooked his one game with the '36 Cardinals.  Alston's 1956 Topps card has been reprinted in both the 1995 Topps Archives Brooklyn Dodgers set (#141) and the 2001 Topps Archives set (#201).

1956 Season
At 44 years old, Alston was entering his third full season as manager of the Dodgers and his first season as the manager of a defending World Champion.  The Dodgers went 93-61 in 1956, winning the National League pennant but falling to the Yankees in the World Series in seven games.

1976 Topps #46
2001 Topps Archives #201
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #8
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #8
Last Topps Card:  1976 Topps #46
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2015 Diamond Kings #139

191 - Alston non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/16/15

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

Not a bad looking first page!

5 comments:

  1. Such a great looking card. Topps really dropped the ball by not making a Stengel manager card.

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  2. Stengel or Durocher cards would have been awesome.

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  3. Glad Walter was still alive when he was inducted. So many times they wait till player/manager is no longer with us.

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  4. Great blog. I'm putting together my set, always thought this is the best set ever produced. You may want to fix the info for Spahn to read throws left. Look forward to seeing more from you on this set. This is truly amazing. Gerry

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  5. Thanks Gerald! (And thanks for the tip on the Spahn post . . . not sure how that one slipped by.)

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