Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bill Virdon Autographed Card

Bill Virdon was an excellent defensive center fielder who was also decent at the plate, with a career batting average of .267, mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1956-1965, and three plate appearances in 1968), but also with the St. Louis Cardinals (1955, 1956), with whom he was named the NL Rookie Of The Year.

Officially, he could still play in the late 1960s but retired because he wanted to become a manager, which he started doing in the minors before graduating to the majors with the Pirates in 1972, finishing first in the NL East. After finishing third the following season, he had a year-and-a-half stint with the New York Yankees, finishing the 1975 season with the Houston Astros, where he remained until 1982, with first-place finishes in 1980 and 1981, but finishing fifth in 1982, leading to his departure and subsequent hiring by the Montréal Expos for two seasons.

He then moved back to Missouri with his wife, at times joining the Pirates for special occasions, including stints as guest first-base coach during Spring Training. The team had him and Bill Mazeroski appear in the dugout in 2012, but that didn't go over well with the powers that be over at MLB and the experiment was terminated after just a single game.

I don't recall the number he wore when he managed the Expos, so I can't add him to my Expos Numbers Project just yet - and, for the record, I do find it odd and borderline ridiculous that managers have uniform numbers in baseball when they aren't player-managers like Pete Rose was - but I do have a signed card of his that reflects his time in La Belle Province:
It's #516 from Topps' 1983 Topps set, which he signed in blue sharpie during the Expos' final season.

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