Major League Baseball Player, Manager, Coach. For twelve-seasons (1955 to 1965 and 1968), he played in the outfield (mainly centerfield) with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Born William Charles Virdon, he was raised in Missouri where he attended West Plains High School. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Yankees in 1950 and played collegiate basketball at Drury University, prior to being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954. He broke into the Major Leagues on April 12, 1955 and made an immediate impact on the league as he was the recipient of the Rookie of the Year honors for that season. He experienced a world championship with the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates and recorded 3 hits in 7 games against the New York Yankees during the 1960 World Series. He distinguished himself in 1962 when he led the league with 10 triples, in addition to receiving a Gold Glove Award. From 1966 to 1967, he served as a Minor League manager in the New York Mets' organization and returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968 to serve as a player-coach. In 1,583 career regular season games, he compiled 1,596 hits with a .267 lifetime batting average. He succeeded Danny Murtaugh (Murtaugh succeeded Virdon as manager during the 1973 season) as manager of the Pirates in 1972 and guided them to a division title resulting in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series. From 1974 to 1975, he served as manager of the New York Yankees and during the 1975 season, he succeeded Preston Gomez as manager of the Houston Astros (1975 to 1982). In 1980, he guided the Astros to their first post season berth which resulted in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series. In 1981, he led Houston to a second consecutive appearance in the playoffs which culminated with a series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series. Virdon was fired during the following season (1982). For parts of two-seasons (1983 to 1984), he served as manager of the Montreal Expos. During the course of his managerial career, he was recipient of Manager of the Year honors twice (1974 and 1980). He went on to serve as a coach with the Pirates and Astros before retiring in 2002.
Bio by: C.S.