Let's Learn From the Past: Danny Murtaugh
One of the most beloved sports figures in Pittsburgh history, Danny Murtaugh spent 29 years in the Pirates organization as a player, manager and front office executive.
Born in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Delaware County, Murtaugh was an exceptional all-around athlete at Chester High School, playing basketball and baseball. After four years in the minors after high school, Murtaugh made his Major League debut with his hometown Philadelphia Phillies in 1941. The second baseman was an average hitter but excelled defensively due to his range and quick instincts. Despite only batting .219, his 18 stolen bases led the National League during his rookie season.
Murtaugh played four seasons in Philadelphia and one for the Boston Braves before finishing his playing career with a four-year run in Pittsburgh.
After just one year coaching in the minor leagues, Murtaugh joined the big league club and succeeded Bobby Bragan as manager of the Pirates, a position he would hold for parts of 15 seasons in four stints with the club from 1957-76. In his first full season, he skippered a Pirates squad that finished in seventh place the previous year to a second-place finish and an 84-70 record.
Building off that momentum, Murtaugh's 1960 team, led by future Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski and Roberto Clemente, clinched Pittsburgh's first World Series title since 1925 after defeating the mighty New York Yankees on Mazeroski's legendary walk-off home run in Game Seven. Murtaugh received the Associated Press National League Manager of the Year award for his leadership.
During the 1970s, the Pirates returned to prominence under the direction of Murtaugh in the dugout. He led the Bucs to another World Series title in 1971, becoming one of only 13 managers in Major League history to win at least two World Series championships.
Murtaugh finished his managerial career with a record of 1,115-950, which ranks second in the 123-year history of the Pirates behind Fred Clarke's 1,602 victories from 1900-15. Murtaugh's No. 40 was retired in 1977, becoming just the fourth Pirate to receive that honor.
This fall marks the 40th anniversary of Murtaugh's second World Series championship team in 1971.
Visitors to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center can learn more about Murtaugh and the Pittsburgh Pirates championship teams of the 1960s and '70s. For more information, visit www heinzhistorycenter.org.
First Published September 1, 2011 12:00 am