Danny Murtaugh Belongs in the Hall of Fame

By Jason Shetler

p/c: palmbeachpost.com

p/c: palmbeachpost.com

Throughout their long and storied history, the Pirates have had plenty of great players, as well as great managers. One of those great managers was Danny Murtaugh. Murtaugh took over a bad Pirates team in 1957 on an interim basis. In Murtaugh’s first full season of managing in 1958, the Pirates were a second place team, winning 84 games, which was a 22 win improvement from the year before. After finishing just a couple games over .500 in 1959, Murtaugh guided the Pirates to a first place finish in 1960 with 95 wins, and led them to a World Series victory over the heavily favored New York Yankees. Murtaugh went through some health problems, and stepped down following the 1964 season. He remained in the organization in a front office role with then Pirates general manager Joe L. Brown. Murtaugh returned to manage the Pirates in 1967. Just like the 1960 World Series, Murtaugh led the Pirates to another World Series title in 1971 over a pretty heavy favorite in the Baltimore Orioles. He stepped down following that season, but returned again in 1973 after the firing of Bill Virdon. Murtaugh would announce his retirement following the 1976 season. Shortly after he retired, he died of a stroke on December 2nd, 1976. In his honor, the Pirates would retire Murtaugh’s #40 on April 7th, 1977. 

Murtaugh altogether managed the Pirates for 15 seasons. He compiled 1,115 victories while posting a .540 winning percentage, which is actually better than Hall of Famers Casey Stengel and Tommy Lasorda. Murtaugh guided the Pirates to five first place finishes, and remains the only manager in franchise history to win more than one World Series championship. He also had five seasons in which the Pirates won 92 games or more. Murtaugh was named the NL Manager of the Year by the Sporting News in 1960. Major League Baseball has implemented an “Expansion Era Committee”, which Murtaugh should certainly be considered on. While he’s arguably the most underrated manager in baseball history, Murtaugh was one of the best in the Expansion Era, and belongs in the Hall of Fame. 

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