The 1955 Rookie of the Year, Virdon spent 11 years in the major leagues, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates through the 1965 season. He also appeared in six games for the 1968 Pirates, three years after his last major league appearance. Virdon’s first season was his best. In his only full year for the Cardinals he hit .281 with 17 home runs, 68 RBIs and 58 runs scored. He started the next season slowly and was traded to Pittsburgh after just 24 games played. His bat found new life with the Pirates and he finished the 1956 campaign with a .319 average, 10 home runs and 77 runs scored. He led the National League in games played that season with 157 and finished 18th in the MVP vote. Virdon remained a starting outfielder for Pittsburgh for the next nine seasons. He led the National League in triples (10) in 1962 and won the Gold Glove that year as well. He hit .279 in his final full season in the big leagues and posted a .267 career average.
As he mentions on his survey, Virdon was a member of the Pirates’ World Series winning team. He hit .241 and had 5 RBIs in the series. He hit a ground ball in the eighth inning of Game 7 that hit New York Yankee shortstop Tony Kubek in the throat, allowing Virdon to reach base and starting a rally that put the Pirates up heading into the ninth inning. The Yankees would come back to tie the game, which led to Bill Mazeroski’s famous home run.
Following his playing career, Virdon coached and managed in the big leagues until 2002. He was the Sporting News Manager of the Year with the Yankees in 1974 and with the Houston Astros in 1980. He also skippered the Pirates and the Montreal Expos. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.
Bill Virdon – career stats