Skip to content

Danny Murton got his first chance as a minor league manager with the New Orleans Pelicans in 1952. He used his three seasons with the Pels to become the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957, the first of his 15 MLB seasons in that role.

Just three seasons later, Murtaugh’s Pirates shocked the baseball world with a dramatic Game 7 victory over the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series. It was the first world championship for pirates since 1925. He led the Pirates to another World Series in 1971. Considering the Pirates have only won five World Series championships in their 135-year National League history, Murtaugh is considered one of the all-time greats. the best managers in the history of the team.

As a player, Murtaugh began his professional career as a 19-year-old in 1937 in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1941 and spent two more seasons with them before being drafted in 1944 and 1945 during World War II. For the most part, he had an undistinguished playing career.

He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948, when he had his best major league season, finishing 9th in MVP voting. After a poor season with the Pirates in 1951, he approached Pirates GM Branch Rickey for a managerial job in New Orleans, then the Pirates affiliate.

At age 34, Murtaugh became player-manager of New Orleans in 1952. During that era, it was rare for a man’s first job as a manager to come at the Double-A level. The Pels finished fifth in the Southern Conference with a record of 80-75.

Frank Thomas, the Pirates’ future big leaguer, was the Pels’ best player with a league-leading 35 home runs, 131 RBIs and 112 runs scored. Left-handed pitcher Lenny Yochim, a New Orleans native who prepped at Holy Cross, posted a 12-8 record. Murtaugh appeared in 55 games as a starter with a .212 batting average.

The Pelicans posted a 76-78 record in 1953 for sixth place, followed by an impressive second-place finish in 1954 with a 92-62 record. The 1954 Pelicans included several players who later played for Murtaugh: Roy Feis, Gene Freese, Danny Kravitz, Hardy Peterson and Nelson King.

In 1956, Murton was promoted to the coaching position in Pittsburgh. After Bobby Bragan was sacked as manager after 103 games in 1957, Murtaugh was promoted to manager. He was named in his first full season as captain in 1958 Associated Press Manager of the year.

Murtaugh brought the respect back to the Pirates. They won the NL title in 1960, their first since 1927, and went on to compete with the New York Yankees in the World Series. The Yankees have outscored the Pirates 38-3 in their three wins, while the Pirates have barely edged the Bronx Bombers in each of their first three wins. In Game 7, the Pirates came from behind to beat the Yankees on Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic home run off Ralph Terry.

Murtaugh has retired three times as Pirates manager due to health issues. Instead, he took office jobs, but each time Pirates GM Joe L. Brown was persuading to take the managerial reins again.

After his second comeback in 1970, the Pirates won their division as he was named NL Manager of the Year for the second time. They won the NL title again in 1971 and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.

He was again absent from the dugout during the 1972 season and most of 1973.

After his third return as coach at the end of the 1973 season, he won two more division titles before finally retiring after the 1976 season. He died of complications from a stroke on December 2, 1976, at the age of 59.

His 15-year MLB career managerial record was 1,115-950. He trails only Fred Clark in career wins as a Pirates manager. His number 40 was retired by the organization in 1977.

In addition to Murtaugh, former Pelicans personnel who moved to the big league Pirates in various capacities included: Joe L. Brown, general manager; Joseph O’Toole, Assistant Grand Master; and Lenny Yochim, a scout for over 36 years.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *