Former Astros Manager Bill Virdon Passes Away at 90

Former Astros’ manager Bill Virdon passes away at 90-years-old.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, SABR Houston reported the death of former Houston Astros‘ manager, Bill Virdon. Virdon was recently a guest speaker for SABR at their meeting in May 2021, while the organization described him as “vibrant, engaging with the group and a great guest of honor.”

Virdon played 12 seasons at the major-league level from 1955-1965, while he played in six games during the 1968 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ coaching staff. While 37-years-old at the time, the former outfielder needed to fill-in for the Pirates players that had entered military service.

While collecting a National League Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove and some MVP votes in his career, Virdon soon turned to coaching once his playing career was over.

The 1960 World Series Champion did have some league-leading statistics, such as the most games played in 1956 (157), the most triples in the National League in 1962 (10) and the most caught stealing attempts in the league that same year (13).

Virdon found his way to Houston in 1975 as the Astros’ manager, the same year that Tal Smith, who was honored by Tal’s Hill and also our website, Climbing Tal’s Hill, became the general manager.

Virdon stayed in Houston from 1975 to 1982, while making the postseason twice in his tenure. His first go around was in 1980, when the Astros tied the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the National League West with Houston winning the tie-breaker.

The Astros went onto lose the National League Championship Series in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies, as Virdon was named Manager of the Year.

Due to a strike in 1981, the postseason was adjusted to where the Dodgers and the Astros would face off in the National League Divisional Series, which ended in a Dodgers’ advancement. Virdon managed his final season with the Astros in 1982, as he was fired and then succeeded by Bob Lillis.

Virdon was a two-time World Series champion and holds history within the Astros’ franchise as the first manager to take Houston to the postseason. Teams have already begun sending their condolences to the Virdon family, as well as the Astros.

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