Friday, September 13, 2013

Bill Virdon (#55)

Wow! I'm back here already, less than 2 months since my last post. Actually, I checked in to say that this 1963 Topps blog is now a team blog, and Collective Troll has joined the staff. I look forward to his contributions to this blog, while I focus on my 1966-69 Topps blogs.

Bill Virdon was the long-time center fielder for the Pirates from 1957-1965. After retiring, he became a Pirates' coach, but was pressed into active duty for 6 games in late-July 1968.

Virdon was signed by the Yankees in 1950, and played 4 seasons in their organization. In April 1954, he was traded to the Cardinals for veteran outfielder Enos Slaughter. After another year in the minors, Virdon won the 1955 Rookie of the Year award as the Cardinals' everyday center fielder.

After starting 22 of the first 24 games in center for the Cardinals in 1956, Bill was traded to the Pirates for outfielder Bobby Del Greco and pitcher Dick Littlefield.

Virdon started 126 of the final 132 games in center for the Bucs in '56, and except for missing the month of May 1960, he manned that post for the rest of his career. In his final season (1965), he and Manny Mota split the center field starting assignments 70/30. Bill hit .241 with 5 RBI in the 1960 World Series, and in 1962 he led the NL with 10 triples, and won his only Gold Glove award.

After his release by the Pirates following the 1965 season, Virdon managed the Mets' AA ('66) and AAA ('67) teams, then hooked on as a coach for the Pirates in 1968, under new manager Larry Shepard.

Bill managed the Pirates ( in 1972-73) and Yankees  in 1974-75). When the Yankees fired him after 104 games in 1975, he was soon hired by the Astros, finishing out the '75 season and staying on until midway through the 1982 season. He also managed the Expos for all of 1983 and most of 1984.

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