Posts Tagged ‘Houston Buff Biographies’

Buff Biographies: Harry Elliott

October 14, 2013

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Harry Elliott

Harry Elliott

Sadly this morning, I’ve only now learned that one of my favorite former Houston Buffs from the 1953 club died this past summer. At the age of 89, Harry Elliott passed away on August 9, 2013 in his home town of Little River, Kansas.

Outfielder Harry Elliott (BR/TR) (5’9″, 175 lb.) was a slashing line drive power hitter who posted a career minor league batting average of .326 over 7 seasons (1951-54, 1956-58) that also included 205 HR. His greatest season in the minors came early when he hit .391 in 139 games for the 1951 Alexandria Aces of the Evangeline League. By 1954, Elliott banged out a .350 average for San Diego of the AAA Pacific Coast League in 168 games.

Harry had a short dip into the MLB coffee grind while he was in the Cardinal system, batting a career .256 with only 2 HR as a pinch hitter/left fielder with St. Louis of the National League during the seasons of 1953 and 1955. Back then, playing left field behind another guy named Stan Musial was no speed lane to the big time. Elliott spent the entire season of 1955 with St Louis in 1955, but he was sent down to Houston in 1953 after only 28 games of play off the Cardinal bench. Harry’s arrival in Houston was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull and gray hum-drum 6th place Buffs Texas League season. Elliott batted .328 with 8 HR in 115 games during his only Buffs 1953 season.

Harry Lewis Elliott was born December 30, 1923 in San Francisco, but he graduated from Watertown High School in Minnesota before attending the University of Minnesota prior to the start of his baseball career. When he broke into the big leagues on August 1, 1953, his start occurred exactly 60 years and 8 days prior to his passing from this life.

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Harry Elliott was an animated and spirited figure, moving productively in the foreground of the otherwise mostly gray and hapless 1953 Buffs. The Pecan Park Eagle is certain that his family must have experienced much of that energy too in their own relationships with him and that he is very missed by whomever he left behind.

Rest in Peace for now, Harry Elliott. – With a little faith, hope, and heart, – and some good old fashioned baseball luck – the herd will ride again,

Buff Biographies: Rip Repulski

September 11, 2013

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Former Houston Buffs outfielder Eldon John “Rip” Repulski (6’0″, 195 lb.) (BR/TR) was born October 4, 1928 in Saux Rapids, Minnesota. Straight out of high school at the age of 18, Rip began his 7 season minor league (1947-52, 1961) and 9 year big league (1953-61) careers with Class D West Frankfort, Illinois in 1947, although he did continue his higher education at St. Cloud State University near his home town during the off-season.

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Rip Repulski had a career minor league batting average of .290 with 101 HR and a career MLB mark of .269 with 106 HR – not bad for a guy with good speed and an adequate arm as a center fielder.

Rip’s two seasons as a Buff were both limited by the parent Cardinals desire to push him up through the system at a speedy basis. He arrived in Houston late in the 1950 season, coming up from Class A Columbus, Georgia in time to play 37 games and hit .256 with 2 HR for the ’50 AA Buffs. The following year, Repulski played center field for the ’51 Buffs only long enough to hit a measly .217 with no HR before the Cards moved him up to AAA Columbus, Ohio by a need or design that had little to do with his actual performance on the field.

Rip Repulski played 4 MLB seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (1953-56), 2 years with the Philadelphia Phillies (1957-58), 2 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959-60), and 2 years with the Boston Red Sox. That Dodger hitch allowed Rip to pick up a World Series ring with the 1959 Los Angeles club, but I would assess his best season as having been 1954 when he hit .283 on the back of 19 HR and 79 RBI for the Cards.. He also hit 23 HR for the 1955 St. Louis club, but his numbers were down in other areas.

As a kid,  I recall that we Buff fans got a pretty breezy volume of writer’s ink on the coming of Rip Repulski and what he could mean to the team’s Texas League chances. He simply wasn’t here long enough to do very much and, while he was here, he didn’t do anything he could write home about.

Such was the often experienced life span of minor league fan hope back in the day.

Rip Repulski passed away in Waite Park, Minnesota on February 10, 1993 at age of 64.

R.I.P., Rip.

Buff Biographies: Bob Mabe

August 21, 2013

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Bob Mabe (5’11”, 165 lb,) (BR/TR) will always hold the distinction of having been the last 20-game winner for the Houston Buffs. He attained that 20-win plateau when he led the 1956 Texas League and Dixie Series Champions to glory with a personal pitching record of 21 wins, 10 losses, an ERA of 2.83 and 195 strikeouts in 264 innings pitched. Many great and lesser known men found 20 wins on the Houston Buff staff over the years, but after Mabe in ’56, none found that magic again in the five remaining seasons (1957-61) of the club’s existence. 1956 was also the only 20-win year in the 10-season minor league history (1950-51, 1953-1960) of Bob Mabe. His minors career mark concluded with a total of 93 wins, 70 losses, and an ERA of 3.31.

Bob Mabe voluntarily retired from baseball in 1952, but he came back in 1953.

As a member of the 4th place Houston Buffs in 1955, his first of two total seasons in Houston, Bob Mabe put up his 2nd best record in history by going 16-10 with an ERA of 3.31.

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As a 3-season big leaguer (St. Louis Cardinals, 1958; Cincinnati Reds, 1959; and Baltimore Orioles, 2 innings in 1960), Bob Mabe posted a light duty MLB tote board of 7 wins with 11 losses and a 4.82 ERA. Nevertheless, Bob Mabe did it in the twilight of those 16-team MLB days in which it was far less probable that any young aspiring pitcher would get there and see action at all. In that light, 142 total innings worked as an MLB pitcher is a pretty shiny accomplishment along the way.

Thank you, Bob Mabe, for being the last 20-game winner in the history of the Houston Buffs!

We don’t have much on the personal side of Bob Mabe’s life here at The Pecan Park Eagle beyond the monumental dates story, nor do we know if he had anything to do with organized baseball beyond his active career retirement at the end of the 1960 season. We do know that we was born in Danville, Virginia on October 8, 1929 – and that he also passed away in the city of his birth on January 9, 2005 at the age of 75.

Bob Mabe is buried at Highland Burial Park in Danville, Virginia.

God rest his soul in peace.

Buff Biographies: Al Lary

August 20, 2013

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Al Lary fell far short of being the greatest pitcher in Houston Buff history, but he still left his mark with that 4th place last Buffs club of 1961. The Buffs finished with a 73-77, .487 mark in their last minor league season in the American Association and Al Lary was their last double-digit wins leader for the year. His 15-9, 3.58 ERA mark paced the 1961 club.

In 1960, Lary’s first year with the Buffs, he went 12-8 with a 3.53 ERA – making it 27-17 for his two seasons in Houston. His 12 wins in 1960 also paced all Buffs pitchers in another mediocre year.

At 6’3″, 185 lb., the BR/TR Lary had come to professional baseball from the University of Alabama. He lasted for 12 minor league seasons (1951-52, 1955-64), compiling a career mark of 103-100, 3.76 ERA. He also had a two-cups-stop background with the Chicago Cubs as a major league pitcher for an 0-1, 6.53 ERA mark over 16 games in 1954 (1) and 1962 (15).

At 15-9, Al Lary was the last big winner for the Houston Buffs in their final season of 1961.

At 15-9, Al Lary was the last big winner for the Houston Buffs in their final season of 1961.

Lary was out of baseball in 1953. Although we are lacking confirmation this morning, our first guess is that his absence had to do with military service, rather than injury. The Korean Was was just ending in 1953 and Lary was age 24 in that last year of the war. We will attempt to get confirmation of military service or injury for 1953 and plug it in here as it arrives.

My memories of Lary are of a guy who had pretty good form, a pitcher who did well when he could get the batters to hit the ball on the ground to his fielders. He overpowered very few batters, depending greatly upon batters hitting playable and catchable balls. When the balls were hit hard, the hits fell, and Lary lost, but, for the last 1961 Buffs, he mainly won.

The next season, 1962, Houston’s first in the big leagues, Al Lary was in the other dugout on Opening Day as a reliever for the Chicago Cubs for his second and last season in the big leagues.

Al Lary was born in Northport, Alabama on September 28, 1928. He passed away in the same place on July 9, 2001 at the age of 72.

Buff Biographies: Fred Martin

July 31, 2013

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Fred Martin, Pitcher 1951 Houston Buffs

Fred Martin, Pitcher
1951 Houston Buffs

Fred Martin (6’1″, 185 lb) (BR/TR) was a tough, talented, and wily pitcher who spent 3 years in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals (1946, 1949-50) , putting up a 12-3, 3.78 mark for his time in service at the highest level. Over the longer run of 25 years (1935-60), Martin also posted a 17-season minor league mark of  169-135, 3.38 for mostly Cardinal clubs, including  4 whole and partial seasons (1941, 1951, 1953, 1959) with the Houston Buffs.

Martin had his greatest statistical year when he went 23-6 with a 1.88 ERA for the great 1941 Buffs and then returned in a decade to contribute heavily (15-11, 2.54) to the success of the 1951 Texas League champion Buffs.

Over time, Fred Martin earned a lot of respect as a teacher of pitching mechanics, particularly as the game pertains to a pitch that many experts give him credit for either inventing – or redefining from its use in earlier eras by turn of the century greats Christy Mathewson and Rube Foster of the early Negro League. The pitch we speak of here, of course,, is the one we now know as the “split-finger fastball”.

Martin is also given credit for being the mentor who taught the pitching-life-changing weapon to Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter and to Roger Craig who then taught the split-finger to the great Mike Scott, among others.

Stories of mentorship are common and often hard to verify, but if they begin to happen in bunches about the same teacher bearing the same lesson, you begin to listen and consider giving them credibility.

Fred Martin

Fred Martin

Fred Martin was one of those guys. And he was a guy who even looked as though he was born to play baseball. Born on June 27, 1915 in Williams, Oklahoma, the 20-year old “Okie” pitched his first game, just barely out of the Dust Bowl in 1935 for Class D Siloam Springs, Arkansas – and he didn’t hang ’em up until he was 45 and pitching his last two games in relief for Class C St. Cloud, Minnesota. By then, the clock had rolled all the way to the year 1960.

Fred Turner Martin left this world on June 11, 1979 in Chicago. He was just 63 when he passed, looking near his end like a guy who could still bring it, had he been called upon to do so.

Keep your seat, Fred. You did enough. More than enough.

Buff Biographies: Ben Steiner

July 30, 2013

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Ben Steiner 1951 Houston Buffs

Ben Steiner
1951 Houston Buffs

Second baseman Ben Steiner (5’11”, 165 lb) (BL/TR) was born in Alexandria, Virginia on July 28, 1921.. He broke into minor league baseball at the age of 19 in 1941 with Class C Canton, batting .295 with 0 HR in 49 games before up to Class B Greensboro that same year and hitting .206 with no HR in 8 games.

Over the course of his 11 season minor league career (1941-51), Ben Steiner hit a respectable .272 with 19 home runs. The Buffs were his last professional game stop in 1951 and he batted .262 with a single homer in  130 games at second base for the Texas League champion Buffs that season. Steiner also had played for another champion at AAA Columbus with other former Buffs like Larry Miggins and Solly Hemus. The 1950 Columbus Red Birds were winners of the Little World Series that season.

Steiner also played three earlier seasons in the big league with the Boston Red Sox (1945-46) and the Detroit Tigers (1947). His play was limited to 82 games with 78 of those coming at Boston in 1945. He only picked up 4 at bats in 3 games with the 1946 AL champion Red Sox playing behind future Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr and 1 game for the 145 Tigers. Ben Steiner’s MLB career totals included a .256 batting average and 3 home runs.

For whatever reason, Ben Steiner was through with professional baseball at the end of his 1951 Houston Buffs season. At age 30, he retired to pack his dreams away into the regular 9 to 5 work crowd.

Ben Steiner, Utility 1945 Boston Red Sox

Ben Steiner, Utility
1945 Boston Red Sox

Ben still valued his time in baseball.  As the assistant county clerk of Middlesex County, New Jersey during the 1970’s, Steiner wore his championship ring from the 1950 Little Word Series team from Columbus, Ohio.

We don’t much about Steiner’s personal life beyond his baseball career, but we do know that he died at a relatively young age. Ben Steiner passed away in Venice, Florida on October 27, 1988 at the age of 67.

As a kid, I always liked Ben Steiner. When his early season average hovered above .300 well into June, my 12-year old mind wanted to give the bespectacled  second sacker credit for out-thinking the Texas League pitchers who were trying their best to keep him off the bases. In fact, in my own little world of private baseball ideas, I always thought of Ben Steiner by the phrase that most of baseball already had assigned to Dom DiMaggio. To me, Ben was  “The Real Little Professor”.

I remember being disappointed that Steiner did not return to the Buffs for the 1952 season, but I wish I knew more today about his reasons for quitting at age 30. Maybe it was injury. Maybe it was the fact that  he realized he had gone about as far as he could go in the game by that time.. Maybe some other opportunity away from baseball looked more attractive to him.

Who knows? I will now post “whatever happened to Ben Steiner after 1951?” as another question I’d like to know more about. If you have any data on that subject, please post it below as a comment.

Meanwhile. “R.I.P., Ben Steiner! – My Buff memories of you are golden!”

Buff Biographies: Eddie Kazak

July 29, 2013

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Eddie Kazak, 3B 1951 Houston Buffs

Eddie Kazak, 3B
1951 Houston Buffs

Eddie Kazak (6’0″, 175 lb.) (BR/TR) was a wiry-muscular third baseman who played for the Houston Buffs in both 1942 (.257, 5 HR) and 1951 (.304, 13 HR).

EdwardT. Tkaczuk (Eddie Kazak) was born in Steubenville, Ohio on July 18, 1920, three years after a fellow named Dino Paul Crocetti also was born in the same Ohio steel mill town. Crocetti would grow to fame as singer/actor. It’s unlikely that Dean Martin and Eddie Kazak ever met (by any names) as kids. Eddie’s family moved early on to  the small coal-mining town of Muse, Pennsylvania where he grew up.

Eddie Kazak enjoyed a 16-season career in the minors (1940-42, 1946-48, 1951-60), coming out of same with a career minor league batting average of .307 with 153 career home runs.

As a paratrooper in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, Kazak suffered a bayonet wound to his left arm and shrapnel damage to his right elbow in a landing that followed the invasion of Normandy in 1944.  Kazak spent the next 18 months in a hospitals, enduring numerous surgeries, including one to replace the missing bone in his left elbow with a plastic patch. His doctors told Kazak to forget about baseball upon his release from the army and medical care, but Eddie couldn’t do it. In spite of shooting pains in his right arm every time he threw a ball, Kazak attempted a comeback in 1946.

When Eddie couldn’t break into a spot with the AAA Rochester Red WIns in 1946, he moved down to A Columbus Cardinals of the South Atlantic League for an absolutely amazing first game at second base. In a 10-3 win over Savannah on April 23, 1946, Eddie Kazak signaled his come back with 2 home runs, a double, and a single in five times and bat, throwing a steal of home for good measure. Nobody AKWS bout Eddie’s ability or will to play the game after that night. – With results like that, the guy could play with pain, even if his superman production couldn’t happen most of the time.

In human terms, Kazak’s best minor league season was 1954, when he hit .344 with 1992 hits and 19 HR for Beaumont of the Texas League. That same year, hot third base prospect Ken Boyer of Houston had comparable totals that included a .319 BA, 202 total hits, and 21 total HR.

In his best major league season, Eddie batted .304 with 6 HR in 92 games for the 1949 St. Louis Cardinals. In his 5 MLB seasons (1948-52), Kazak played in only 208 games, never reach 100 games in any single season.  All years but 1952 were spent with the Cardinals, but that last season was split between the Cards and the Cincinnati Reds. Eddie was just one of those who ate up AA pitching, but struggled some against the MLB arms. His MLB career marks included a respectable .273 BA and 11 career homers.

Seeing one your favorite former Buffs on a real MLB baseball card always felt so good back in the day.

Seeing one your favorite former Buffs on a real MLB baseball card always felt so good back in the day.

Eddie Kazak was a slashing line-drive hitter with pretty good base-path speed and athletic ability as a defensive third baseman. He was also an Allen Russell kind of guy. Russell was the Buffs President during Kazak’s 1951 second tour with the club and he was also a major owner at Beaumont in 1954. Kazak finished his professional career with 3 games at Austin in 1960, and that was another club touched by Russell late in the 1950s. Russell liked players with strong working class ethics and that definitely took in the Planet Earth space occupied by Eddie Kazak.

Kazak settled in the Austin area following the conclusion of his baseball playing career. He died in Austin on December 15, 1999 at the age of 79.

Former 1951 teammate Jerry Witte and Eddie Kazak hit it off as buddies due to their shared Polish ethnic background.  (Witte was half-German and Half-Polish, but he hardly recognized the former in preference for the other.)

“You know how two Polish ball players stay out of trouble when they have time on their hands in Houston?” Witte used to ask. “Me and Kazak would get a line and a pole and go fishing down on the banks of the (Sims) bayou near where we lived. We’d also take a .22 rifle and shoot at turtles when we got the chance. They could be pretty tasty too.”

I still can’t believe that they cooked and ate any turtle that came out of any bayou in Houston, but sometimes it’s just better to listen rather than over-think the camaraderie stories of ball players from the Post-World War Two era.

Eddie Kazak in Line Drive Form!

Eddie Kazak in Line Drive Form!

R.I.P., Eddie Kazak! ~ R.I.P, Jerry Witte! ~ Hope you guys are having fun on the banks of those heavenly golden shore bayous these days!

Buff Biographies: Tommy Glaviano

July 26, 2013

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Tommy Glaviano 01 Over the years, a lot of shortstops have managed to spin double-digit year MLB careers as “good field/no hit” players due to the importance of speed, range, and athleticism at the critical middle infield spot. Not so third basemen. Strong arms and a good reflexive reaction capacity are important to third base defense, but the guy’s got to hit, preferably for average and power – and he needs to be a killer batter with men on base.

The legion of those who couldn’t cut it offensively in the majors at good old “3B” is large in numbers and, sadly so, it includes Tommy Glaviano,  the third baseman for the 1947 Dixie Series champion Houston Buffs.

Born October 26, 1923 in Sacramento, California, Tommy Glaviano (5’9″, 175 ib.) (BR/TR) signed with the Cardinals out of high school at the age of 17 and played a couple of seasons (1941-42) at Class C level before serving in the Coast Guard during World War II (1943-45). Early Warning: At two city team stops at Fresno and Springfield in his first two seasons, .253 was Glaviano’s best mark.

Things seemed to change after the war. In 1946, Glaviano returned to Fresno and batted .338 with 22 HR in 126 games. It looked like a bright new beginning. It turned out to be his career-best year – and the only time Tommy would hit over .300 and only twice more come anywhere near that magical good-hitter mark in his professional career.

In his 1947 AA Houston Buff season, Tommy batted .245 with 13 HR in 125 games at 3B. In 1948, he pumped it up to .287 with 18 HR for AAA Columbus, Ohio. Things were looking good.

Tommy Glaviano 02 Glaviano began his five season MLB career (Cardinals 1949-52; Phillies 1953) the next spring. 1950 would prove his best MLB season when he hit .285 with 11 HR. For all five seasons in the Bigs, Glaviano played 389 games, batting .257 with 24 HR.

After 1953, Glaviano played two more seasons (1954-55) with AAA Sacramento and 12 games with 1957 AA San Antonio before retiring from active play at age 33. Over the long haul of his 8-season minor league career, played variously from 1941 to 1957, Tommy Glaviano posted a career minor league mark of .257 with 69 HR.

Tommy Glaviano passed away in Sacramento, California on January 19, 2004 at the age of 80.

R.I.P., Mr. Glaviano! You were the first third baseman of my Buffs fan years – and you played your spot right there at 3B with my other Houston Buff infield heroes: Solly Hemus at 2B, Billy Costa at SS, Johnny Hernandez at 1B, and Gerry Burmeister at C. – And let’s not forget outfielders Eddie Knoblauch in Left, Hal Epps in Center, and Vaughn Hazen in Right, – and, oh yeah, 1947 Buff pitchers Clarence Beers (25-8) and Al Papai (21-10), – and a certain manager named Johnny Keane.

Long live Tommy Glaviano and the memory of all the 1947 Houston Buffs!

Buff Biographies: Ruben (Mora) Amaro

July 25, 2013

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Ruben Amaro Sr Infielder Ruben (Mora) Amaro was a two-season former Houston Buff (1956-57); outfielder Ruben Amaro, Jr. was not.

Ruben (Mora) Amaro (5’11”, 170) was born January 6, 1936 in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Ruben Amaro, Jr. (5’10”, 170) was born February 12, 1965 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ruben the Father (BR/TR) batted .257 with 35 HR in 9 seasons (1954-71) as a minor leaguer; Ruben Jr. (BB/TR) batted .304 with 44 HR in 10 seasons (1987-96) as a minor leaguer.

Ruben (Mora) Amaro played shortstop for the last two Houston Buff Dixie Series championship clubs of 1956 and 1957. In each year, the Buffs defeated the Atlanta Crackers in six-game sets. Daddy Amaro batted .266 in 152 games for Houston in 1956 and .222 for the Buffs in 142 games in 1957. He was more than happy to collect his glory when it came to him, playing good defense both seasons, even if his offensive production fell hard in 1957. The Buffs both needed and benefited from the game he brought to the park as an infield spark plug and defensive leader.

Ruben Amaro, Jr.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. (He’s almost a dead ringer for his father in the featured 1965 baseball card shown above.)

Ruben the Father batted .234 with 8 HR in 11 seasons as a major leaguer with the Cardinals (1958), Phillies (1960-65), Yankees    (1966-68), and Angels (1969); Ruben the Son batted .235 with 16 HR in 8 seasons as a major leaguer with the Angels (1991), the Phillies (1992-93), the Indians (1994-95), and the Phillies again (1996-98),

Ruben Amaro, Jr. stopped playing 1998, but he had earned a reputation as a good judge of talent and a leader. by this time. After joining the Phillies as a coach, he quickly ascended to the title of Assistant General Manager under burgeoning HOF executive GM Pat Gillick, and then taking over the GM job in 2008 upon the retirement of his boss and mentor.  Recent decay in the 2013 Phillies plan and some of the big contracts that Amaro has written for players who aren’t performing at their megabuck-expectation levels have left this son of a former Buff on shaky grounds in Philadelphia.

The only cure is winning. It’s the baseball way.

Buff Biographies: Walt Alston

July 24, 2013

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Walt Alston

Walt Alston

Bill Johnson’s biosketch for the SABR biography project at Baseball Reference (d0t) Com is the best, most comprehensive you are likely to find. Check it out for a fact-packed good page of information you may not already completely have about the legendary Dodger manager and Miami (O) University graduate. Were you aware, for example,  that Brooklyn players Jackie Robinson and Billy Loes weren’t exactly happy with Alston as the two-straight-years NL champion Dodgers (1952-53) lost the 1954 pennant to the New York Giants in Walt’s first year at the helm of his 23-season career as manager of the boys in royal blue? Check it out:

http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/cfc65169

Walter Alston was also once a Houston Buff, if ever so briefly, and it came on the heels of his even most brief career as a three-pitch strikeout victim for the St. Louis Cardinals in his only MLB time at bat on September 27, 1936. Alston was on the big league club roster as an end-of-season call-up player, but he only got into the game as a replacement for first baseman Johnny Mize after the latter was ejected. Alston then followed this opportunity by committing an error on one of his two chances in the field and then striking out on three pitches in his only time at bat. The next spring, Walt Alston started the 1937 season as a first baseman fo the Houston Buffs.

In 65 games for the 1937 Houston Buffs, Walt Alston hit only .212 with no home runs in 208 times at bat. Somehow he was promoted from Houston to Rochester that same season where he hit .246 with 6 HR in 66 games and 203 times at bat. Go figure.

Over his 13-season minor league career (1935-47), first baseman Walt Alston batted a very respectable .295 with 176 home runs. He also built a reputation as a quiet, mild-mannered, unassuming personality who was slow to anger on the outside, but a guy who was totally committed to doing what he felt was right. Sometimes that mild exterior was misunderstood by those who count on explosions of rage as their first choice for managerial reactions to disputes that come up in many games.

As he would prove over time as the 23-season manager of the Dodgers (1954-76), Walt Alston was neither slow nor weak. He was simply the “real deal” as the strong silent type.

In his time at the Brooklyn/LA Dodger helm, as you probably know, Alston was the first and only manager of a Brooklyn Dodger World Series winner in 1955, but he also led the Brooklyns to another pennant in 1956. That second time, the Dodgers lost to the Yankees that they had defeated in 1955. The Dodgers lost out to the Braves in 1957 and then moved to Los Angeles in 1958. They returned to the World Series again in 1959, defeating the Chicago White Sox for their first World Series win as the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Under Alston, the Dodgers played in seven World Series. They won in four tries (1955, 1959, 1963, & 1965) and they lost in three (1956, 1966, & 1974).

Walt Alston was a three-time MLB manager of the year and a six-time NL manager of the year. He won 2,040 games as a major league manager and was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1983.

When Walt Alston yielded the managerial reins to Tommy Lasorda late in 1976, he tuned things over to a guy who would also stay on the job for a Hall of Fame managerial career (1976-1996). Think about that. – For 43 seasons (1954-1996), the Dodgers had only two managers – and they together won over 4,000 games and places for each of them in the Hall of Fame. How great does great have to be before we find another word for it?

Walt Alston 01

Walt Alston’s life began and ended in places far away from the big spotlight of the country’s media spotlight. The (6’2″, 195 lb.) (BR/TR) former first baseman was born December 1, 1911 in Venice, Ohio. He died October 1, 1984 in Oxford, Ohio at the age of 72.

The man was Dodger Blue all the way, but it’s still nice to remember that his path to managerial greatness includes the time he passed through our town in 1936 as a member of the Houston Buffs.