Alston was a first baseman with the St Louis Cardinals in the 1936 season. He played in his only major league game on September 27, as a substitute for future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize, who had earlier been ejected from the game. Alston struck out in his only major league at bat. After returning to the minor leagues for several years as a player and then as a manager, he was named manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1954 season.
Alston won seven National League pennants in his 23 years tenure as Dodgers manager. In 1955 he led Brooklyn to the pennant and its only World Series championship; the team repeated as National League champions in 1956. After the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, Alston led the team to pennants in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1974, and three more world championships (1959, 1963, 1965).
Named Manager of the Year six times, Alston also guided a victorious NL All-Star squad a record seven times. He retired after the 1976 season with 2,063 wins (2,040 in the regular season and 23 in the postseason).
As a manager, Alston was noted for his studious approach to the game (he had taught school in the off-season while in the minors) and for signing 23 one-year contracts with the Dodgers at a time when multi-year contracts were becoming the norm in the sport.
- Signed as a non-drafted free agent by St. Louis Cardinals (@June, 1935).