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Danny Murtaugh is home in the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame

Danny Murtaugh will be inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame on May 22, 2024 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

by Robert N. McLaughlin, author of Danny and Mickey. Ordinary Heroes

Irish eyes are smiling in Pittsburgh these days, and also on the faces of many baseball fans in and around Chester, PA and its surrounding Delco communities. The Irish American Baseball Society has announced that Danny Murtaugh will be inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame.

The induction will take place on May 22, 2024 at the Pirates-Giants game in PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Danny Murtaugh was an accomplished MLB player and manager. He compiled what many sportswriters and sportscasters consider to be Hall of Fame-worthy numbers during his twenty-four years in a major league uniform. He played in 767 games during his nine years in the major leagues, and then managed 2,064 games – winning 1,115 – a winning percentage of .540 which is better than eight managers who are enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

As a player he led the NL in stolen bases in 1941 while playing only 85 games; he batted .273, .290, and .294 in three seasons when he had at least 400 at-bats; he finished ninth in the NL MVP voting in 1948 behind winner Stan Musial and ahead of Jackie Robinson and Richie Ashburn. As a manager, he won two World Series, first defeating the Mantle-Maris-Whitey Ford Yankees (1960) and then out-dueling the Baltimore Orioles’ greatest team (1971). He was selected as the Sporting News Manager of the Year in both years. These facts and the innovative strategies that Danny brought to baseball led him to find his path to success, but the seeds of his success were planted in the challenges he endured in his personal journey from boyhood to baseball glory.

Danny was a second-generation Irish-American whose grandparents emigrated from Ireland during the Irish Diaspora when Ireland’s primary cash crop, the potato, was stricken with disease. Ireland’s potato famine occurred during the same period that America was in desperate need of labor to build its cities, subways, and railroads. America needed labor and millions of Irish immigrants needed work, food, and they welcomed the opportunities for a better life in America.

Danny was born in Chester in 1917. The only boy surrounded by four sisters, two younger and two older, it was rumored he was adored by his mother and his sisters and quickly gravitated to all sports, eventually excelling in baseball. But his life lessons began much earlier. Shortly after his twelfth birthday, the stock market crashed and sunk America into the Great Depression. As Danny might’ve said, it wasn’t his fault, he was only twelve. Now like all Americans, a hard life became harder and nighttime searches for bits of coal from coal cars became common. America’s Great Depression lasted through the Thirties.

Danny graduated from high school in 1935 and began working alongside his father in the local shipyard. In 1937, he was invited to baseball spring training. As a feisty, swift infielder at 5’9” and 160 lbs., he was a gritty minor league competitor and was promoted to the Phillies in mid-season 1941. Shortly after the season ended, he married his high school sweetheart, Kathleen Mc Carey. Nine days later Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Soon, baseball was a distant second to America at war and Danny traded his baseball cleats for Army-issued infantry combat boots. He played in U.S. Bond fund-raising exhibition games for several Army baseball teams before landing in Europe in February 1944 with the 97th Infantry where he joined the final march to Berlin. His infantry division fought for three months before President Truman announced Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945. Japan surrendered three months later on August 15.

Arriving home, he was ready to resume his baseball career but the trek across Europe left him needing reconditioning in the minors. He led the International League in hitting but didn’t get back full swing in the majors until 1948 when the Cardinals traded him to the Pirates. The rest is Pirate’s baseball history including Danny’s brush with death when NY Giants’ pitcher Sal Maglie hit Danny in the head in August 1950. Danny was hitting .294 and garnering MVP votes. He came back later that season but was never the same hitter. The Pirates’ new GM Branch Rickey sent Danny to the minors to learn to manage. Danny wasted no time. He observed that Pittsburgh didn’t have enough top-line pitching to compete with the major market teams so he began using more pitchers per game for shorter innings; he also recognized the developing talent among players of color and he was among the first to award positions and playing time according to performance.

All of his past struggles and his combination of Irish tenacity, personal grit, and individual skills opened doors to a path of success. His open acceptance of an individual’s performance also led to him opening doors to success for others. His humor, dry tenacity, and grit were legendary.
Danny Francis Murtaugh is at home in in the Irish Baseball HOF and he is one of millions of sons and daughters, and grandchildren of Irish immigrants whose dreams came to fruition under American’s golden lamp.

Robert N. McLaughlin was born and raised in Chester, PA and resides in Springfield, PA. He worked for 50 years in procurement and contracts for several major engineering and construction companies. He is an avid Philadelphia sports fan who supports all of the local sports teams. He only rooted one time for a team outside the city. That team was the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. Danny and Mickey: Ordinary Heroes was his first book.

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