Pirates Alumni Association wants Murtaugh in Hall

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The Pirates Alumni Association wants to hear from everyone who thinks Danny Murtaugh deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

The group is accepting letters of endorsement that it will forward to the veterans committee, which will vote in December on which managerial candidates get on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2010.

Murtaugh, named in 1999 as the top manager in franchise history, was previously considered in 2007. He received six of 16 possible votes; 12 votes, or 75 percent, are required for enshrinement.

In his 15 seasons and four separate stints at the helm of the Pirates, Murtaugh had a .540 winning percentage and won two World Series titles as a prohibitive underdog -- in 1960 against the New York Yankees and in 1971 against the Baltimore Orioles. He was twice named manager of the year by The Sporting News.

He retired for good following the 1976 season because of health reasons.

The primary backers of his candidacy include Colleen Hroncich, a granddaughter who is writing a book on him, and Steve Stake, a Pittsburgh native who has established the Web site www.murtaugh4hof.com.

"My grandfather worked in a smaller media market, and he always focused attention away from himself and onto his players," said Hroncich, whose working title for the book is "Danny Murtaugh Memories." "Without a grassroots effort to educate the Hall of Fame voters, it's unlikely he'll make it. This year may be his best chance."

Stake, who works with U.S. forces in Korea on an air base in Osan, points not only to the statistics but the way Murtaugh managed. He used Roy Face in the pioneering relief role of closer, and fielded the first all-minority team in 1971.

"Statistics are not what make him Hall of Fame material. It is his character and contributions to the game that make him so special," Stake said.

Anyone wishing to write a letter to the veterans committee on Murtaugh's behalf can address it to the Pirate Alumni Office at PNC Park, 115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15212. The association will see that it gets into the proper hands.

Judging managers is subjective because consideration must be given to the material he had to work with, said former Pirates reliever Kent Tekulve.

"What I know about Murtaugh is there were two things you could count on. He would give you an honest evaluation or an honest answer, and you were rewarded for what you did on the field," Tekulve said. "It didn't matter who you were or what you looked like, he would stay with you as long as you performed. You always knew where you stood."

Robert Dvorchak can be reached at bdvorchak@post-gazette.com .


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