Former Giants All-Star shortstop and manager Alvin Dark dies at 92
Alvin Dark, a player and manager on World Series champions who sparked perhaps the most famous rally in baseball history, died Thursday. He was 92.
The Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, South Carolina, said Dark died at his home.
Dark was the 1948 Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star shortstop. He played alongside Willie Mays when the New York Giants won the 1954 title, and he guided Reggie Jackson and the Oakland Athletics to the 1974 crown.
Dark’s relationship with his Latin players proved a source of friction during his time as manager of the San Francisco Giants in the `60s. He was said to have asked them to refrain from speaking Spanish at the ballpark — among the Latin stars on those teams were future Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal, plus Felipe Alou.
Cepeda told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday that he often saw Dark in later years and "every time he saw me he felt very sorry for what he did to the Latino players."
"He didn’t know our background or where we came from. I said, `Alvin, that’s in the past now, that’s in the past,’" Cepeda said. "I don’t have grudges against nobody."
Cepeda said that as he got older, he could better appreciate the baseball advice that Dark imparted to his players.
"He was ahead of his time," Cepeda said. "He was a great baseball man. He made me play hard, because he said I had so much talent."
In 1951, Dark was team captain when the Giants trailed the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning in the deciding Game 3 of their NL pennant playoff.
Dark hit a leadoff single against Don Newcombe, and Bobby Thomson capped the comeback at the Polo Grounds with a home run that became known as "The Shot Heard ‘Round the World" for a 5-4 win.
Dark was a star runner, passer and punter at LSU and served in the Marines during World War II before becoming a major leaguer.
He played briefly for the Boston Braves in 1946, then hit .322 in 1948 and won the rookie award when there was only one selection from both leagues. The Braves reached the World Series that year for the first time in three decades, but lost to Cleveland.
Traded to the Giants, he helped them reach the 1951 Series and hit .417 in their loss to Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and the Yankees.
In the 1954 World Series, highlighted by Mays’ famed over-the-head catch, Dark hit .412 as the Giants swept Cleveland.
Dark played in the celebrated "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" era of New York baseball in the 1950s, when the Giants, Yankees and Dodgers ruled. Along with Mays, Mantle and Duke Snider in center field, the city had three quality shortstops — Dark, plus future Hall of Famers Pee Wee Reese of the Dodgers and Phil Rizzuto of the Yankees.
Dark hit .289 with 126 home runs in 14 seasons with the Braves, Giants, St. Louis, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia.
In 1961, Dark began a managing career that spanned 13 seasons in which he went 994-954 with the Giants, Kansas City and Oakland A’s, Cleveland and San Diego.
"Alvin was a true Giant and was a part of our rich history in the 1950s and 1960s," San Francisco CEO Larry Baer said in a statement.
Dark led the Giants to the 1962 pennant but lost the World Series in seven games to the Yankees. Dark took over the Athletics in 1974 and guided them to their third straight Series title that season.
He managed San Diego for the second half of the 1977 season, then was fired during spring training in 1978 after saying he wanted to make several big moves, including putting newcomer Ozzie Smith at shortstop.
Dark worked with minor leaguers in the Cubs and Chicago White Sox organizations and moved to South Carolina in the early 1980s.
"He was a true baseball man who will always hold a prominent place in our history, both in Kansas City and Oakland," the Athletics said in a statement.