John Steigerwald: Ex-Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh belongs in Hall of Fame


Tim Murtaugh made it to the big leagues.

Maybe you remember or have heard of Tim’s grandfather, Danny, who managed the Pirates off and on for 15 years and won two World Series.

Tim’s father, also named Tim, never made it to the major leagues as a player, but he was an All-American catcher at Holy Cross and made it to Triple-A as a player and as a manager.

I rode the buses around the International League with him in 1976 with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Charleston, W.Va. He was the manager, and I was the radio play-by-play man.

I might have called the only game in professional baseball history in which a father managed against his son. Danny and the Pirates came to Charleston for an exhibition game, and I remember describing the scene at home plate with father and son going over the ground rules at Watt Powell Park before the game.

I don’t remember who won. Sorry.

Tim’s son, Timmy, was only 6 years old and lived across the street from me that summer.

He never played pro baseball. When he was a guest on my radio show recently, I asked him how he missed out on the baseball life. He said, “It missed me. I wasn’t that good.”

Timmy is now known as Tim, and if you haven’t seen him pop up on a cable news show yet, you will. He’s the communications director for the Donald Trump 2020 re-election campaign.

That’s big league politics.

Murtaugh’s dad dabbled in county politics in eastern Pa. after leaving baseball in 1976, and maybe that’s where Tim got the bug.

He worked as a publicist for a local congressman and then for Virginia Sen. George Allen, who made an unsuccessful run for the presidency.

Interestingly enough, former Sen. Allen is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen.

Tim Murtaugh has a tough job dealing with a hostile media his boss has referred to as the enemy of the people, but he always handles himself well when working in enemy territory.

Danny Murtaugh retired in 1976 to spend more time with Tim and his other grand kids, but he died a few months later.

Tim remembers him well and talks about the trip he took with the Pirates to the Houston Astrodome.

All of this got me to wondering why Danny Murtaugh isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He should be.

He won four division championships, two pennants and two World Series and is every bit as deserving as many managers who are in.

Tommy Lasorda won two World Series in 21 years, and he’s in.

Leo Durocher won three pennants and one World Series in 24 years.

Bobby Cox won one World Series in 29 years.

Earl Weaver won one World Series in 17 years. He also lost to Murtaugh and the Pirates in 1971. His Orioles were heavily favored and led three games to one. Two years earlier, he managed to lose to the Miracle Mets.

Dick Williams won two World Series in 21 years.

Joe Torre won four World Series with the Yankees, but anyone could have managed those teams to at least two championships. In 15 seasons with the Cardinals and Braves, Torre won one division championship.

Danny Murtaugh, who was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2007, outmanaged Weaver in 1971 and another Hall of Famer, Casey Stengel, in 1960.

In both cases, Murtaugh was managing a team that was given no chance to win. That would seem to indicate some pretty good managing.

Over the last few years, there has been a push to get Dave Parker into the Hall of Fame, and a decent case could be made for him, but he’s not as deserving as Tim Murtaugh’s grandfather.

We’re coming up on the 60th anniversary of the 1960 World Series, and now would be a good time for the Pirates to get behind a campaign to finally get Danny to Cooperstown.

Three Pirates teams have been to the World Series in the last 93 years, and Danny Murtaugh was the manager of two of them.

Come to think of it, he should have had a statue outside PNC Park a long time ago.

John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories:
John Steigerwald Columns | Pirates/MLB | Sports

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