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History for sale: Walter “Smokey” Alston’s 1977 Honda CB550 Up For Auction

By Richard Backus


Tags: classic japanese motorcycles, classic honda motorcycles, ohio, vintage motorcycle auction,

Smokey Alston riding his 1977 Honda CB550, probably around the time he purchased it.
Smokey Alston riding his 1977 Honda CB550, probably around the time he purchased it. 

History for sale: Walter "Smokey" Alston's 1977 Honda CB550 up for auction

Best known as the manager of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Walter "Smokey" Alston grew up in Ohio. In 23 years as a major league manager, Alston never signed a contract longer than one year. Unknown to many people is the fact that Alston was something of a motorcycle enthusiast. In 1977, having retired to his hometown of Darrtown, Ohio, Alston purchased the Honda CB550 shown here. Following Alston's untimely 1984 death from a heart attack at age 72, Darrtown resident Estill "Junior" Pendergrass purchased the Honda from Alston's widow. The bike had 6,000 miles on it, and Pendergrass has since added another 12,000.

Pendergrass has decided to sell the Honda, and we were alerted to its celebrity status by Matt Wiley, vintage suspension guru for Race Tech Suspension. It turns out that Wiley has a personal connection to the bike, as Alston lived across the street from Wiley's grandfather. Wiley remembers when Alston bought the Honda as he gave Wiley a ride around the block on it, the Honda still wearing its dealer tags. "He never rode that bike very far," Wiley says, "mostly just cruising around the back roads for enjoyment."

Pendergrass' sale of the Honda coincides with Darrtown bicentennial celebrations over the July 4 holiday, with bidding on the bike open through July 5. Pendergrass says he's put a $2,800 reserve on the CB550. The bike's been well-maintained over the years and is complete with all its original period accessories including a Wixom fairing and rear luggage rack. More information by calling Pendergrass at (513) 405-2742 or email him at estillpendergrass@gmail.comRichard Backus

Smokey Alston’s 1977 Honda CB550 today, still wearing its original dealer-installed Wixom fairing and rear luggage rack.
Smokey Alston's 1977 Honda CB550 today, still wearing its original dealer-installed Wixom fairing and rear luggage rack.