Alou, Felipe

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Felipe Alou


Dominican baseball player

Felipe Alou is the second Dominican in the history of major league baseball to become a major league player. His career as a player spanned 17 years starting in 1958, and afterwards he switched to managing and managed a total of 1,635 minor league games, as well as many games in the Latin American leagues during the off-seasons. He also spent brief periods as a major league coach before becoming the first Dominican major league manager in the history of the game at the age of 57, in May of 1992, when he began managing the Montreal Expos. He left the Expos in 2001 and signed on as manager with the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

Son of a Carpenter

Felipe Alou was born in 1935 in the Dominican Republic town of Haina, the son of a black carpenter and blacksmith father, and a Caucasian mother. "I knew a bit about the history of the slaves," he later told Jeff Blair in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "but I thought it (racism) was just a baseball thing. I had white aunts and uncles. We still have family with green eyes and blond hair. I get relatives who come and visit me in Florida, and nobody thinks we're related." Still Alou first became fully aware of racism in the United States when he made a brief stopover in Miami in 1954 on the way to the Pan-Am Games in Mexico City. There, Alou was informed that he would be required by racist laws to ride at the back of city buses. The Dominican team won the gold metal at the Pam-Am games, and this directly led to Alou's signing with the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

Although baseball was his first love, Alou first trained to become a doctor and a carpenter. As he later explained to Ebony 's Walter Leavy, "I was a student at the University of Santo Domingo, with the idea of becoming a doctor. At the same time, I was working with my father as a carpenter, which was great because most of the homes on the island were made of wood. I just loved baseball best."

He started in the Giants' minor league teams, playing in Southern American towns like Lake Charles, Louisiana and Cocoa, Florida. He had as a guide, teammate Julio Navarro, a white Puerto Rican, who could order food at restaurants where Alou was not allowed to eat, and bring it back to his black teammates.

A Player in the Major Leagues

Alou made his major league debut with the San Francisco Giants in 1958. Through a 17-year major league playing career, he played as both an outfielder and first-baseman with the Giants (1958-63), the Braves (1964-69), the Althetics (1970-71), the Yankees (1971-73), the Expos (1973), and finally the Brewers for one year before retiring as a player in 1974. At the end of his playing career, Alou had a%. 286 career batting average, 206 home runs to his credit, along with 852 runs batted in, over a career that including 2,082 games. Named to the National League All-Star team three times, Alou also made it to the World Series with the Giants in 1962 (his team lost the to Yankees). While playing for the Giants, Alou played on the same team as his younger brothers, Matty and Jesus.

Alou's best year as a player came in 1966. That year, he hit 31 home runs, batting%. 327 with the Braves. His 218 hits and 122 runs gave him the best record in the league that year. Also in this year, his brother, fellow major leaguer Matty Alou, averaged%. 342, the year's best batting average.

As a player, Alou often spoke out against what he felt were below-standard working conditions for Latin American baseball players. He held that he and his fellow Latino players were not paid as much as white players, and that they were more often subjected to criticism. As he later told Ebony, "It was not until I managed my first game that I realized the responsibility that goes with being a manager. As a minority, I have to be a good example. Those of us [minority managers] who are in eminence now have to show people that we are capable of controlling a game, handling players and the media, and can have a [good] relationship with the fans and the city in which we manage. If we don't manage well or mix well with the fans, the next minority guy isn't going to have much of a chance." Alou retired as a player in 1974, and moved on to managing and coaching. He started his managing career in the minor leagues with the Expos organization.

A New Career as Manager

In 1976, Alou's son Felipe Jr. drowned. This had a profound impact on Alou's outlook on his career and his life. As he told Blair in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I have to say that it was after Felipe's death that I changed. Before that, I was like anyone else and took things for granted. I still thought like a major leaguer, because I was only a couple of years out of the game as a player, and was going to get back into it as a coach, or something. But you lose your first-born son, and you don't take anything for granted anymore. For there can be nothing worse than that. Nothing. For a while I wanted to be left alone."

With Felipe Jr., gone, Alou is left with ten surviving children, the products of four marriages. The eldest is Maria Jimenez, in her early forties as the 1990s drew to a close. Alou's first wife was Maria, with whom he had daughter Maria, and sons Moises, and Jose. Next he married Beverley Martin, who hailed from Atlanta, and with whom he fathered Christia, Cheri, and Jennifer. His next wife was a Dominican named Elsa Brens, and with her, Alou had Felipe Jose and Luis Emilio. Alou's fourth marriage was to Canadian Lucie Gagnon in 1985. By 1998, the couple had two children, Valerie and Felipe Jr.

Alou became manager of the Montreal Expos in 1992. Alou's goals as manager was to develop younger, less well-paid players into outstanding ballplayers, since, throughout the 1990s, the Expos cut costs by trading higher-paid players to other teams. His strategy paid off; by 1994, the Expos had the best win-loss record in major league baseball, and Alou was named Manager of the Year. By the end of his tenure with the Expos, Alou had brought his team to victory more times than any other manager in the history of the team. This was especially remarkable considering that the Expos had the second-lowest payroll in the National League at the time of Alou's recognition as Manager of the Year, with only two players over the age of 30.


1935Born in Haina, Dominican Republic
1958Becomes a major league baseball player with the San Francisco Giants
1962Plays in the World Series with the Giants against the Yankees
1963Plays for the Braves
1970Plays for the Athletics
1971Plays for the Yankees
1973Plays for the Expos
1974Plays for the Brewers
1974Retires as a player, becomes a manager and coach in the minor leagues
1976Son Felipe Jr. drowns
1992Becomes the first Dominican major league manager, for the Montreal Expos
1994Named National League Manager of the Year
2001Leaves the Expos
2002Signs with the Giants as manager

Related Biography: Baseball Players Matty and Jesus Alou

Felipe Alou's two younger brothers, Matty and Jesus both played major league baseball at the same time as Felipe. All three brothers played together on the same team briefly in 1963, when Jesus joined the Giants. During one memorable game, the three of them comprised the only outfield to be made up entirely of brothers.

Matty is the second-oldest of the Alou brothers, born in 1938. He began his major league career in 1960, two years after Felipe, when he joined Felipe's team, the Giants. He hit his stride in 1966, the year he moved from the Giants to the Pirates, that year leading the National League in batting, with an average of .342. In 1969, he led the league in hits and doubles. Jesus is the youngest of the brothers, born in 1942. He was called "Jay" by sportscasters who didn't want to seem blasphemous by using the name "Jesus.

Awards and Accomplishments

1962, 1966Named to the All-Star team
1992Becomes baseball's first Dominican major league manager, for the Expos
1994Named National League Manager of the Year

A Giant at Heart

Alou was dismissed as Expos manager in 2001. After spending a season as a bench coach for the Detroit Tigers, he was hired in September, 2002 to manage the San Francisco Giants starting in 2003. With this appointment, his career came full circle; he had started his major league career as a player for the Giants in 1958. "I'm going back home to where I started and, hopefully, I'm going to end it right there," he told Janie McCauley of the UAS Today. At 67 years old, he also became the oldest major league manager. Giants general manager Brian Sabean told McCauley at the time of Alou's hiring, "We're obviously thrilled we're able to welcome Felipe back. Everyone in baseball realizes what he's done in the game. It's thrilling because he's a Giant at heart. He calls himself a baseball soldier in conversation. He's more like baseball royalty to us."

Career Statistics

ATL: Atlanta Braves; MILB: Milwaukee Braves; MILW: Milwaukee Brewers; NY: New York Yankees; OAK: Oakland Athletics; SF: San Francisco Giants.

Baseball continues to run in Alou's family; son Moises signed with the Astros as a player, and Jose started his work life as a minor league player for the Expos before trading his baseball uniform for that of a police officer. Alou's sons Felipe and Luis were working their way up to the major leagues as players as the 20th century drew to a close, and his nephew, Mel Rojas, became a pitcher for the New York Mets. Alou's daughter, Christia, also works in baseball, although in a very different capacity; she is a lawyer working for the law firm that represents the Major League Baseball Players Association. Said Christia of her father to Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he is "a man who has lived his life through baseball." She said of her job that it was her way of keeping the family business of baseball going.



Blair, Jeff. "Alou Excels at Longevity in Montreal." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (August 29, 1998): Sports, 6.

Leavy, Walter. "Baseball's Minority Managers; Taking Charge on the Field." Ebony (May, 1993): 110.

Massarotti, Tony. "Baseball; Red Sox Skip to AlouKelly Could Be on Deck." Boston Herald (March 10, 2002): B18.


"Felipe Alou." (December 2, 2002).

"Felipe Alou Statistics." Baseball Almanac. (December 2, 2002).

"Felipe Alou Statistics." (December 2, 2002).

"Felipe Alou Welcomed in San Francisco." WinterBase (December 2, 2002).

"Giants Name Felipe Alou Manager." (December 2, 2002).

"Jesus Alou." (December 2, 2002).

"Matty Alou." (December 2, 2002).

Sketch by Michael Belfiore