Former Cajuns Who Played MLB – Alvin Dark
How many former Louisiana (formerly both Southwestern Louisiana Institute and University of Southwestern Louisiana) Ragin' Cajun baseball players went on to play Major League Baseball?
The answer is 13.
Over the next few weeks, I'll take a closer look at all of them.
Alvin Dark, who played at Louisiana (then Southwest Louisiana Institute) and LSU, prior to hitting a .323 as the starting shortstop for the Boston Braves in 1948, winning Rookie of the Year honors, and then later guiding the San Francisco Giants to the 1962 World Series title as a manager, was the first to make it.
Born in Comanche, Oklahoma in 1922, and raised in Louisiana, Dark graduated from Lake Charles High School in 1940, before accepting a basketball scholarship from Texas A&M, before ultimately deciding to attend LSU.
An all-SEC halfback for the LSU football team in 1942, as well as a member of the Tigers' SEC championship baseball team of 1943, Dark was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981.
During World War II, Dark transferred to SLI, through the V-12 program, and quickly became a two-sport star, hitting a .466 for the Bulldogs in the 1944 baseball season, and leading SLI to an undefeated season, and an appearance in the Oil Bowl, as the starting quarterback.
For the Bulldogs, it was their first unbeaten season since 1906, and although they were seriously considered for both the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, they settled for a 24-7 win over Arkansas A&M, who played SLI to a 20-20 tie earlier in the year, in the Oil Bowl in December of 1943.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected Dark in the second round of the 1945 NFL Draft, but after coming home from the war, he elected to sign a professional baseball contract with the Boston Braves.
It didn't take long for Dark to make his mark, as he hit a .323 as the starting shortstop for the Braves in 1948, to win Rookie of the Year honors.
Dark went on to play for six different teams in his 14-year career, including helping lead the New York Giants to the 1954 World Series crown as the shortstop and team captain.
A three-time National League All-Star (1951, ’52, ’54) Dark was a career .289 hitter, accumulating 2,089 hits.
After his playing days ended, Dark became a manager, and led the San Francisco Giants into the 1962 World Series, where they fell to the New York Yankees, 4 games to 3.
Dark managed the Giants (1961-1964), the Kansas City Athletics (1966-67), the Cleveland Indians (1968-71), the Oakland Athletics (1974-75) and the San Diego Padres (1977), compiling an overall record of 994-954, including World Series titles with the Giants in 1962, as well as the A's in 1974.
In 1976, Dark was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Dark passed away in 2014, at the age of 92, after battling Alzheimer's Disease.