Bill Virdon, who won the 1955 National League Rookie of the Year for St. Louis, who is a steady center fielder, who guided the Houston Astros to three straight postseason appearances as a manager, has passed away.
Bill Virdon was 90 years old. He died at the Lester E. Cox Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri, according to Virdon’s wife Shirley. The reason why he died wasn’t mentioned anywhere.
Virdon was a career .267 hitter in 12 seasons with St. Louis and Pittsburgh, winning a World Series in 1960 with the Pirates and a Gold Glove in 1962. In 1968, he officially retired and went into coaching, going 995-921 in 13 years as a manager with Pittsburgh, the New York Yankees, Houston, and Montreal.
His best years were spent with the Astros from 1975 until 1982 when he guided the team to its first two postseason berths, both of which ended in five-game losses. The 1981 players’ strike forced Houston to lose in the NL Championship Series to Philadelphia and in the NL Division Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As a manager, Virdon has the most wins in Houston’s history (544). In 1980, he was named NL Manager of the Year after leading the Astros to the NL West title, which they won in a one-game playoff against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“His impact on the Astros organization will never be forgotten,” the Astros said in a statement. “He was respected throughout baseball for his intensity and knowledge of the game.”
The Yankees signed Virdon in 1950 and dealt him to the St. Louis Cardinals in April 1954 in exchange for star outfielder Enos Slaughter.
Virdon, a left-handed hitter, made it to the majors in 1955. Virdon, who took over in center field for Hall of Famer Stan Musial, hit.281 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs while acting as one of the few bright spots for a club that ended second to last in the NL, was one of the few bright spots for a squad that finished second to last in the NL.