This Day in Baseball History- November 23, 1971. A little over a month after winning the 1971 World Series- Pittsburgh Pirates manager retired- due to health issues. He would be replaced by one of his coaches- Bill Virdon. This was the third time Murtaugh had stepped aside as Pirates manager. His first stint as manager 1957-1964- included the great upset of the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series. Murtaugh stepped aside in 1964 due to health issues- heart issues. General Manager Joe L. Brown coaxed him out of retirement in July 1967 when he replaced Harry ‘The Hat’ Walker as manager for the rest of that season. He would step aside again. In 1970 he came back a third time- this time for two seasons- the Pirates won the NL East both seasons and in 1971 defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. He then on this date retires again. Believe it or not- GM Joe L. Brown would bring him back a 4th time in late 1973 to take over a struggling Pirates team. Murtaugh’s fourth term- would last until the end of the 1976 campaign. The Pirates won the NL East in 1974- and 1975 but failed in the NLCS. 1976 would be his final year- the Pirates went 92-70 but finished second to the Philadelphia Phillies. The season I can a few times the television camera zooming in on the Pirates dugout and Murtaugh would appear to be asleep. He would retire at the end of the season- and die two months after the season ended on December 2, 1976 at the age of 59. He was one of the oldest looking 59 year olds I can remember. A great manager- he is up for consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame this coming year. I’d like to see him get in. He was a rarity among managers- while he was the Pirates manager four different times- he was never fired as manager- not many can say that.
Murtaugh was low-key about publicity- like the Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll- he seemed to have no interest in public acclaim. In September 1971 he quietly broke a barrier- in fielding the first baseball line-up made entirely of minorities.