Alvin Dark

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Al Dark.jpg

Alvin Ralph Dark
(Blackie or The Swamp Fox)

BR page

Biographical Informationn[edit]


Alvin Dark played over a decade in the majors, winning the 1948 Rookie of the Year Award with the Boston Braves and making the All-Star team three times with the New York Giants. He also managed 13 seasons in the majors, going to the 1962 World Series and winning the 1974 World Series.

He batted above .400 in each of two World Series with the New York Giants. He won the Lou Gehrig Award in 1955, the first year it was given out.

Playing career[edit]

A five-sport star in college, he was at Louisiana State University beginning in 1941 and later as a service trainee appeared at quarterback for Southwestern Louisiana (known now as University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in the Oil Bowl in 1944. He served in the military during World War II. Signed in 1946 by the Braves at the age of 24, he made a brief debut that year but spent 1947 in the minors with the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .303. It was his only year in the minors.

Dark hit .322 in his rookie year, in 1948, and was far ahead of the other contenders for the Rookie of the Year Award. He was also #3 in the 1948 National League MVP voting. The Braves went to the World Series that year, but he hit only .167 as they lost in 6 games to the Cleveland Indians.

After the 1949 season he was traded to the New York Giants in a six-player trade that involved Sid Gordon coming to the Braves.

After hitting over .300 in 1948, he hit at least .300 in three more seasons in the majors, from 1951 to 1953. He also led the 1951 National League in doubles. He hit 20+ home runs in 1953 and 1954 but after that never hit as many as 10 in a season.

Dark was a teammate of Warren Spahn on the Braves, Willie Mays on the Giants, Stan Musial on the St. Louis Cardinals and Ernie Banks on the Chicago Cubs.

Manager and coach[edit]

After his playing career ended, he took over as manager of the San Francisco Giants in 1961 and led the team to the 1962 World Series. That was where he earned his nickname "Swamp Fox", when he tried flooding the basepaths at Candlestick Park in order to impede the fast baserunners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After four years at the helm of the Giants, he was a Chicago Cubs coach in 1965.

In 1966, he took over as skipper of the Kansas City Athletics, a position he held for almost two seasons. In 1968, Dark became manager of the Cleveland Indians, and the next season he was given the title of the team's General Manager as well. He was fired from both posts in 1971.

In 1974, he was named manager of the Oakland Athletics, replacing Dick Williams who had quit in disgust over owner Charles Finley's shenanigans after winning the 1973 World Series. Dark took the club back to the World Series in his first year with them, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. He remained with the A's through 1975, winning a second division title that year.

Dark began the 1977 season as part of the Cubs coaching staff and ended the year as the San Diego Padres manager. He was then fired in the middle of spring training in 1978, only the second manager fired under such circumstances (Phil Cavarretta had been the first, in 1954). Padres GM Bob Fontaine cited a "communications problem" to justify the firing; he was replaced by Roger Craig, who guided the Padres to their first ever winning season that year. Dark later worked in the Chicago White Sox front office in the mid-1980s.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 1948 ML Rookie of the Year Award
  • 3-time NL All-Star (1951, 1952 & 1954)
  • 2-time NL At Bats Leader (1953 & 1954)
  • NL Doubles Leader (1951)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1953 & 1954)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1951 & 1953)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Giants in 1954
  • Division Titles: 2 (1974 & 1975)
  • NL Pennants: 1 (1962)
  • AL Pennants: 1 (1974)
  • Managed one World Series Champion with the Oakland Athletics in 1974
  • 100 Wins Seasons as a Manager: 1 (1962)

ML Rookie of the Year
1947 1948 1949
Jackie Robinson Alvin Dark Award Split

Preceded by
Tom Sheehan
San Francisco Giants Manager
Succeeded by
Herman Franks
Preceded by
Haywood Sullivan
Kansas City Athletics Manager
Succeeded by
Luke Appling
Preceded by
Joe Adcock
Cleveland Indians Manager
Succeeded by
Johnny Lipon
Preceded by
Gabe Paul
Cleveland Indians General Manager
Succeeded by
Gabe Paul
Preceded by
Dick Williams
Oakland Athletics Manager
Succeeded by
Chuck Tanner
Preceded by
John McNamara
San Diego Padres Manager
Succeeded by
Roger Craig

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1961 San Francisco Giants National League 85-69 3rd San Francisco Giants
1962 San Francisco Giants National League 103-62 1st San Francisco Giants Lost World Series
1963 San Francisco Giants National League 88-74 3rd San Francisco Giants
1964 San Francisco Giants National League 90-72 4th San Francisco Giants
1966 Kansas City Athletics American League 74-86 7th Kansas City Athletics
1967 Kansas City Athletics American League 52-69 -- Kansas City Athletics replaced by Luke Appling on August 21
1968 Cleveland Indians American League 86-75 3rd Cleveland Indians
1969 Cleveland Indians American League 62-99 6th Cleveland Indians
1970 Cleveland Indians American League 76-86 5th Cleveland Indians
1971 Cleveland Indians American League 42-61 -- Cleveland Indians replaced by Johnny Lipon on July 30
1974 Oakland Athletics American League 90-72 1st Oakland Athletics Won World Series
1975 Oakland Athletics American League 98-64 1st Oakland Athletics Lost ALCS
1977 San Diego Padres National League 48-65 5th San Diego Padres replaced John McNamara (20-28) and
Bob Skinner (1-0) on May 30

Further Reading[edit]

  • Eric Aron: "Alvin Dark", in Chip Greene, ed.: Mustaches and Mayhem, Charlie O's Three-Time Champions: The Oakland Athletics 1972-74, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 497-504. ISBN 978-1-943816-07-1
  • Bruce Markusen: "Cooperstown Confidential: The 1978 firing of Alvin Dark", The Hardball Times, March 29, 2013. [1]

Related Sites[edit]