Invoice Virdon was one of many main leagues’ smoothest-fielding heart fielders of the Nineteen Fifties and early ’60s. He managed 4 groups, successful division championships with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros and bringing a shocking Yankee group to the brink of 1. However many bear in mind him most for hitting a seemingly routine floor ball that was something however: It despatched the Pirates on their option to a dramatic Recreation 7 victory over the Yankees within the 1960 World Sequence.
Typically described as “bespectacled,” given the relative rarity of ballplayers with eyeglasses, Virdon, who died at 90 on Tuesday, was the Nationwide League’s rookie of the yr with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1955 however spent nearly his whole profession with the Pirates, taking part in alongside the longer term Corridor of Fame proper fielder Roberto Clemente.
The Pirates announced Virdon’s loss of life, in Springfield, Mo.
Invoice Mazeroski’s walk-off residence run gave the Pirates the 1960 World Sequence championship. However Virdon performed an necessary position in that decisive recreation, at Forbes Area, because the beneficiary of a nasty hop. The Pirates had been trailing by three runs within the eighth inning with a runner on first and no one out when Virdon, a left-handed batter, hit a floor ball to shortstop Tony Kubek off the lefty Bobby Shantz.
“Shantz was robust on lefty hitters, and he was robust on me, so I didn’t like dealing with him,” Virdon informed Victor Debs Jr. for the oral historical past “This Was A part of Baseball Then” (2002). “However he hung a curveball, and I hit it onerous, but it surely was proper at Kubek. I stated to myself, ‘Uh-oh, excellent double-play ball.’”
Nevertheless, the baseball bounced up as Kubek was about to snare it, hitting him within the throat. It was scored a single, and Pittsburgh had runners on first and second.
The Pirates scored 5 runs in that inning, together with a climactic three-run homer by the catcher Hal Smith, taking a 9-7 lead. The Yankees tied the sport within the ninth, however the Pirates received the World Sequence on Mazeroski’s homer within the backside of the inning off Ralph Terry.
In Recreation 4, at Yankee Stadium, Virdon had pushed in two runs and made a leaping seize of a drive by the Yankees’ Bob Cerv, crashing into the bleacher wall in proper heart. The Pirates received, 3-2, tying the Sequence.
Virdon received a Gold Glove award for his fielding in 1962.
He remained with the Pirates by means of 1965, managed for the Mets within the minors, then returned to Pittsburgh as a player-coach in 1968, his final taking part in season. He grew to become the Pirates’ supervisor in 1972, taking them to the Nationwide League East title, however was fired late the next season.
In 1974, Virdon was managing the Yankees however not as anybody’s first alternative. The Yankees initially employed Dick Williams, who had give up the Oakland A’s group after taking the group to a second consecutive World Sequence championship in 1973. Williams had been angered by the A’s proprietor Charlie Finley’s meddling. On the Yankees he was to exchange Ralph Houk, who had left to grow to be the Detroit Tigers’ supervisor.
However the American League voided the deal when Finley and George Steinbrenner, who was finishing his first season because the Yankees’ principal proprietor, couldn’t agree on participant compensation to the A’s, who nonetheless had Williams below contract. Steinbrenner as a substitute signed Virdon to a one-year deal.
The Yankees had not received a pennant since 1964, however with gamers like Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson and Graig Nettles, Virdon stored them within the ’74 division race till the next-to-last day of the season. He was named the American League supervisor of the yr by The Sporting Information.
Virdon acquired a brand new two-year contract following the 1974 season, at a time when Steinbrenner was below a two-year suspension for pleading responsible to federal crimes involving illegal contributions to President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 re-election marketing campaign.
The tempestuous Steinbrenner bristled at what he felt was Virdon’s lack of fireplace because the Yankees stumbled in midsummer 1975. In late July, although he was not presupposed to be concerned with working the group, Steinbrenner went to the condominium of the Yankee president, Gabe Paul, and hollered, “Eliminate Virdon!” in keeping with “Steinbrenner: The Final Lion of Baseball” (2010), by Invoice Madden. Virdon was fired, and Billy Martin succeeded him within the first of his 5 stints as Yankee supervisor.
William Charles Virdon was born on June 9, 1931, in Hazel Park, Mich., to Charles and Bertha Virdon, and grew up in West Plains, Mo., after his mother and father returned to their native state. There, his father ran a rustic retailer and his mom was a homemaker. He was signed by the Yankees out of Drury School, now college, in Springfield in 1950. When he had bother together with his hitting within the minors, his supervisor, Harry Craft, advised he put on glasses. His hitting improved, so he stored them on.
Virdon was traded to the Cardinals’ group in April 1954 in a deal bringing the longer term Corridor of Fame outfielder Enos Slaughter to the Yankees. Virdon batted .281 in successful rookie of the yr honors in 1955, however the Playing cards despatched him to the Pirates in Could 1956 when he slumped on the plate. He went on to hit .319 that season and had a career batting average of .267 for 12 main league seasons.
After managing the Pirates and Yankees, Virdon took the 1980 Houston Astros to an N.L. West title, the primary one of their historical past. He later managed the Montreal Expos.
After his years as a supervisor, Virdon was a coach for the Astros and the Pirates.
He’s survived by his spouse, Shirley; his daughters Debbie Virdon Lutes, Linda Virdon Holmes and Lisa Virdon Brown; seven grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
In his memoir “Uppity” (2011), the previous Yankee broadcaster Invoice White credited Virdon for taking the Yankees to a second-place end in 1974, however he characterised him as “a quiet, standoffish man who wasn’t significantly widespread with the gamers.”
On opening day 1975, Steinbrenner ordered Virdon to have the Yankee gamers hearken to a tape recording that Steinbrenner had made to encourage them. By the point that season ended, Virdon had lengthy been fired and the unstable Billy Martin was presumably supplying the wanted hearth. That Yankee group completed in third place.
Jordan Allen contributed reporting.