SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – To handle their veteran team, the San Francisco Giants turned to an old pro: Felipe Alou.

The 67-year-old Alou became the oldest manager to take over a club since Casey Stengel four decades ago. Not that Alou was worrying about his age after the National League champions hired him yesterday to replace Dusty Baker.

“I’m a soldier of this game,” said Alou, who played for San Francisco in the 1950s and ’60s. “The matter of energy and enthusiasm, somebody else is going to have to evaluate that.”

Stengel was 71 when the New York Mets lured him out of retirement in October 1961 to manage them the next year in their first season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau and the Hall of Fame.

It’s been a good week for older coaches. On Tuesday, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies hired Hubie Brown, 69.

Alou, the former Montreal manager and a bench coach for Detroit last season, was excited to return to the Giants. He inherits a team led by five-time MVP Barry Bonds.

“I’m going back home to where I started and, hopefully, I’m going to end it right there,” he said.

Alou agreed to a three-year contract and becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues. He was 691-717 in 10 seasons managing the Expos.

The popular Baker did not have his contract renewed by the Giants after coming within six outs of the World Series championship. Baker is talking with the Chicago Cubs about becoming their manager. Alou’s son Moises plays for the Cubs.

“I was happily surprised,” Moises said. “For him to get a job with a team like the Giants is awesome.”

Alou played for the Giants from 1958-63 as part of a solid 17-season major league career in which he hit .286 with 206 homers and 852 RBIs.

He also spent 1970 and part of 1971 in the Bay area playing for the Oakland Athletics.

On the Giants, he joined brothers Matty and Jesus in an all-Alou outfield in some games.

That’s one of the highlights of his playing days in San Francisco, along with a string of nine consecutive hits.

“When I received the first notice that I might be the guy, or the club was interested in me, I was really shocked,” he said. “I was working with a team in the Dominican Republic and was far from major league baseball.”

It is the first time in nearly three decades that a manager takes over a pennant-winning team in the offseason.

Alvin Dark became manager of the A’s when Dick Williams retired following their 1973 World Series championship.

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