It is no secret how many of the Dodgers feel about their manager. For one thing, they really are one big happy family—the players, that is. For years they have been winning pennants with each other and living and traveling with each other and serving as best men at each other's weddings and baby-sitting with each other's kids. But Alston, even after two years and even after leading them to their first world championship, is still an interloper—a minor league player and a minor league manager who took over a ready-made team of big leaguers. Because he is the manager, they do what he says, for they respect the authority he wields. But they do not always respect him as a baseball man; they feel he is not the equal in a tactical sense of their old manager Dressen nor does he have the ability to get a team up and moving and keep it there that belonged to their old manager Durocher.
But—and this is to the Dodgers' credit—they are fair men. As soon as Reese and Erskine and Snider and some of the others began to realize that Alston was a sitting-duck target for a barrage of anonymous dissension charges, they came to his rescue.
"If we have something to say about the manager," said Reese, "then we should say it with our names attached."
"I took a dig at baseball last spring," pointed out Snider, "but I signed the piece. It's about time some of the rest of you did the same."
And while they were talking they also realized that, whatever his faults in their eyes, Alston's only aim was the same as theirs—to win the pennant.
"I looked back at the games I've pitched," said Erskine, "and not a thing Walter Alston did or didn't do could have helped me win—or lose—even one game more."
"It's not him that's not hitting," said Campanella, "It's us."
The players themselves feel the explosion—and the wrangle in their own group which followed—was the real turning point of the entire season.
"Everyone got their problems out in the open," says Robinson, "and we fought 'em out right there. And we came out of it a ball club."
In last week's vital series against the Braves, the Dodgers showed what Robinson meant.