Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

 History Players Teams Obituaries Site search Contact UsSponsor a page on Historic Baseball! Click here for detailsBill VirdonWilliam Charles VirdonBorn: June 9, 1931 in Hazel Park, MIDebut: 1955 | Pos: OFH: 6’0″ | W: 175 | B: L | T: RYrGABRHHRRBISBBA121583598073515969150247.267>> Visit theBill Virdon biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.Manager’s RecordYrsGWL1918995921.519One of the most famous playsof Bill Virdon’s career probably will never be remembered for the way hehit it. Instead, it remains legendary because of what it hit. With hisPittsburgh Pirates facing elimination in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series,Virdon sparked a comeback when his hit bounced off the throat of Yankeeshortstop Tony Kubek. Comparedto some others on today’s Pittsburgh Pirates coaching staff (Dave Parkerin particular), Bill Virdon wouldn’t be considered overpowering – He neverwas overpowering as a hitter. Yet, he can relate to young players hopingto get a chance to play and he can appreciate defensive skill. He is now assisting witha young team, a team that isn’t expected to go very far in the NationalLeague. Many of the Pirates’ players are just looking for the chance toshow what they can do on the field. Virdon was looking for a similar chanceearly in his career and it came thanks to two trades.He was originally signedby the New York Yankees, but got the chance to play with another franchisewhen the St. Louis Cardinals were looking to trade future Hall of FamerEnos Slaughter to give playing time to Wally Moon. Virdon, Mel Wright andEmil Tellinger were sent to the Cardinals in 1954 for Slaughter. The nextyear, Virdon had the chance to play and his first here was impressive –he was named National League Rookie of the hitting .281 with 17 home runsand 68 RBI.    In 1956, he was expectedto keep up the pace and jump out to a quick start. When he hit just .211in the first 24 games, St. Louis GM Frank Lane traded Virdon to the Piratesfor Bobby Del Greco and Dick Littlefield. Del Greco hit .215 with the Cardinalswhile Virdon hit .344 over the rest of the season for the Pirates. BetweenSt. Louis and Pittsburgh, Virdon had 10 home runs — he would never havedouble-digits in home runs again in his career.While he was an average playerat the plate, Virdon excelled defensively. He finished his career witha .982 fielding percentage and he made 73 errors in his entire career.In 1962, he received a Gold Glove for his defensive play.Maz hit the home run to winthe 1960 World Series and the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson was named MVP,but Virdon made key contributions to keep the Pirates hopes alive. He iscredited with two amazing catches that robbed Yogi Berra of a hit in Game1 and Bob Cerv of one in Game 4. Virdon’s playing career endedwith a .267 career batting average, 91 home runs and 502 RBI in 1,583 games. After his career, Virdonwas a coach for the Pirates under manager Danny Murtaugh in 1972. In Virdon’sfirst year, the Pirates won the division championship, but lost to theReds in the final inning of Game 5 of the NLCS. In 1973, Virdon had confrontationswith players Dock Ellis and Richie Hebner and eventually lost his job.In 1974, after Dick Williams was unable to become manager of the Yankees,Virdon was offered the job. His team finished second and Virdon garneredSporting News Manager of the Year honors. The honeymoon didn’t last longin New York though. Virdon was replaced by Billy Martin in August 1975.Virdon bounced back and washired two weeks later by Houston where he managed for six seasons. Histeam made the playoffs in 1980 leading to more honors for Virdon. His Astroslost in the 10th inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Seriesto the Reds. Virdon was fired in August 1982 after putting together a 544-522record with Houston. He was hired by Montreallater that year and led the Expos through 1984. As a manager, Virdon compileda lifetime 955-921 (.519).When Lloyd McClendon wasnamed manager of the Pirates in 2001, his first choice for bench coachwas Virdon. As he now enters his 70s, Virdon is back with the Pirates,the team where he had the chance to shine.Note: Bio was written in 2001