Danny Murtaugh

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Danny Murtaugh
Danny Murtaugh 1960s.jpg
Second baseman / Manager
Born: (1917-10-08)October 8, 1917
Chester, Pennsylvania
Died: December 2, 1976(1976-12-02) (aged 59)
Chester, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 3, 1941, for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
September 6, 1951, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average.254
Home runs8
Runs batted in219
Managerial record1,115–950
Winning %.540
As player
As manager
As coach
Career highlights and awards

Daniel Edward Murtaugh (October 8, 1917 – December 2, 1976) was an American second baseman, manager, front-office executive, and coach in Major League Baseball (MLB). Murtaugh is best known for his 29-year association with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he won two World Series as field manager (in 1960 and 1971). He also played 416 of his 767 career MLB games with the Pirates as their second baseman.

Life and career[edit]

As player[edit]

Murtaugh appeared in all or parts of nine big-league seasons, initially for the Philadelphia Phillies (1941–43, 1946) and Boston Braves (1947) before joining the Pirates (1948–51). He threw and batted right-handed and was listed as 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall and 165 pounds (75 kg).

Murtaugh's 1949 Bowman Gum baseball card

A native of Chester, Pennsylvania, Murtaugh was working with his father at Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. after he graduated from Chester High School when he took a pay cut to start his professional baseball career at age 19 in 1937. After signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, he joined the Redbirds' extensive farm system, initially as a member of the Cambridge (Maryland) Cardinals of the Class D Eastern Shore League. In June 1941, in the midst of Murtaugh's second consecutive stellar season with the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League, the Phillies purchased his contract; he then made his MLB debut on July 3 as a defensive replacement for Hal Marnie against Boston at Braves Field.[1] The following day he started both ends of a July 4 doubleheader and essentially took over as the Phils' regular second baseman.

As a rookie, Murtaugh led the National League in stolen bases with 18, even though he played only 85 games after his acquisition from Houston in late June. In 1942–43 he got into 257 games before joining the United States Army in August 1943 for World War II service. He declined the opportunity to play baseball in the United States and served in combat with the 97th Infantry in Germany.[2]

Returning to baseball in 1946, he played in only six games for Philadelphia before he was sold back to the Cardinals' organization. At Triple-A Rochester, Murtaugh hit .322 and his 174 hits were tied for first in the International League. The Braves then selected him in the 1946 Rule 5 draft, but Murtaugh played in only three early-season games for them before he was again sent to Triple-A. At 29, he had another good offensive season, hitting .302 for Milwaukee. Although his performance did not earn Murtaugh a return to the Braves, it led to perhaps his biggest break when, on November 18, Boston included him in a five-player trade to the Pirates, where he spent the rest of his big-league career.

His most productive season came in his first year with the Bucs, 1948, when he hit .290 and posted career highs in hits (149), runs batted in (71), runs scored (56), doubles (21), triples (5) and games played (146). He started a career-high 145 games as the Pirates' second baseman. After a poor 1949, Murtaugh rebounded by hitting a personal-best .294 in 1950. Overall, Murtaugh was a .254 career lifetime batter with 661 hits, eight home runs and 219 RBI in 767 games.

As manager[edit]

After retiring as a player, Murtaugh managed the New Orleans Pelicans (1952–54), the Pirates' Double-A farm club, and the unaffiliated Triple-A Charleston Senators (April 19–July 16, 1955). In 1956 he returned to the Pirates as a coach under Bobby Bragan. In his second year in the job, on August 4, 1957, he succeeded Bragan as skipper with the Bucs 36–67 and one game out of last place; under Murtaugh, they perked up to win 26 of their final 51 games. In his first full season, 1958, Murtaugh led the Pirates to a surprise second-place finish in the National League. He went on to hold the Pittsburgh job for all or parts of fifteen seasons over four different terms (1957–64, 1967, 1970–71, 1973–76).

In 1960, his third full season as their manager, Murtaugh guided the Bucs to the first of the two World Series championships they won under his command. After they won the National League pennant by seven full games over the Milwaukee Braves, they stunned the heavy-hitting New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series—won in Pittsburgh's last at bat by Bill Mazeroski's walk-off home run in the ninth inning of Game 7. The Yankees outscored Pittsburgh 55–27, and administered three thrashings (16–3, 10–0 and 12–0), but the resilient Pirates took the other four contests by a run differential of only +7 (6–4, 3–2, 5–2 and 10–9).

Murtaugh, circa 1964

From 1961–64, his Pirates had only one over-.500 season and, after the conclusion of the 1964 campaign, Murtaugh stepped down as manager just before his 47th birthday. He had been battling health problems, sometimes reported as a heart ailment.[3] He moved up to the Pirate front office as a key assistant in charge of evaluating players for general manager Joe L. Brown. After the 1965 season, he turned down feelers from the Boston Red Sox to join their organization as vice president, player personnel. Then, in 1967, when his immediate successor as the Pirates' manager, Harry Walker, was fired July 17, Murtaugh returned as interim pilot for the remainder of the 1967 season, after which he returned to the front office.

Well aware of the abundance of talent in the Pittsburgh system, Murtaugh asked to reclaim the managing job after Larry Shepard was fired in the last week of the 1969 season. Once medically cleared, he became skipper of the Pirates once again (hours after this re-hiring on October 9, Don Hoak, his third baseman on the 1960 World Series champion Pirates and a manager in the Pirates' farm system in 1969, died of a heart attack after believing he was a leading contender to manage the parent club.) His first two clubs won the 1970–71 National League East Division titles. Although the 1970 squad fell in that season's National League Championship Series to the Cincinnati Reds, Murtaugh's 1971 Pirates would bounce back. On September 1, 1971, Murtaugh was the first manager in major league history to field a starting lineup consisting of nine black players (African Americans and Afro-Latin Americans). The Pirates beat the Phillies 10–7 in that game. The next month, they defeated the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS and then captured the 1971 World Series with a memorable comeback from a two-games-to-none deficit against the favored Baltimore Orioles. That World Series was marked by the brilliant performance of future Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, who batted .414 with twelve hits to lead his team to the championship.

Citing renewed health concerns — he had been hospitalized for chest pain during the 1971 season[3] — Murtaugh again resigned as manager after the world title. He moved back into the Pittsburgh front office, and his hand-picked successor, Bill Virdon (center fielder for his 1960 champions), took over for the 1972 campaign. (As the manager of the 1971 pennant winner, Murtaugh did manage the National League team in the 1972 All-Star game in Atlanta.) When Brown fired Virdon on September 5 of 1973, Murtaugh reluctantly returned to managing and stayed through the 1976 season, winning NL East titles in 1974 and 1975 but falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Reds in the NLCS in successive years. After a second-place finish in 1976, both Murtaugh and Brown announced their retirements during the final week of the season. Just two months after his retirement, Murtaugh died in Chester from a stroke at age 59. The number 40 he wore as the Bucs' manager was retired by the Pirates on April 7, 1977.

Murtaugh was a two-time winner (1960 and 1971) of The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award. He compiled a 1,115–950–3 record in 2,068 games (.540),[4] second in Pirates history behind only Fred Clarke. In addition to his two National League pennants and world championships, he won four Eastern Division titles (1970–71, 1974–75), and no Pirates manager has won more division titles in a tenure since his death. In twelve full seasons as manager, he led the Pirates to a winning record nine times; his five postseason appearances with the Pirates is still the most by any manager in team history.

Managerial record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Games Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
PIT 1957 51 26 25 .510 7th in NL
PIT 1958 154 84 70 .545 2nd in NL
PIT 1959 155 78 76 .506 4th in NL
PIT 1960 155 95 59 .617 1st in NL 4 3 .571 Won World Series (NYY)
PIT 1961 154 75 79 .487 6th in NL
PIT 1962 161 93 68 .578 4th in NL
PIT 1963 162 74 88 .457 8th in NL
PIT 1964 162 80 82 .494 6th in NL
PIT 1967 79 39 39 .500 6th in NL
PIT 1970 162 89 73 .549 1st in NL East 0 3 .000 Lost NLCS (CIN)
PIT 1971 162 97 65 .599 1st in NL East 7 4 .636 Won World Series (BAL)
PIT 1973 26 13 13 .500 3rd in NL East
PIT 1974 162 88 74 .543 1st in NL East 1 3 .250 Lost NLCS (LAD)
PIT 1975 161 92 69 .571 1st in NL East 0 3 .000 Lost NLCS (CIN)
PIT 1976 162 92 70 .568 2nd in NL East
Total[4] 2,068 [a] 1115 950 .540 12 16 .429


Pirates 40.png
Danny Murtaugh's number 40 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1977.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Retrosheet box score: 1941-07-03
  2. ^ "Danny Murtaugh". sabr.org. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  3. ^ a b The Associated Press (December 2, 1976). "Danny Murtaugh is Dead at 59; Won 2 Series as Pirate Manager". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  4. ^ a b "Danny Murtaugh". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  • "Baseball Pays Its Respects to Murtaugh at Funeral", The New York Times, Dec. 7, 1976.
    • "A great manager, a great man" Hroncich, Colleen, Columbia, (KofC, New Haven, CT, July 2016)


  1. ^ Murtaugh also managed in three games that ended in a tie

External links[edit]