Through May 2023, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a career franchise record of 10,686-10,647, good for a .501 winning percentage. Despite being a .500 team over these years, they have managed to win five World Series championships -- including one where they came back from a 3-1 series deficit -- in just over a century of history.

While there has never been a Pirates manager with the stature of a Casey Stengel or a Tony La Russa, Pittsburgh has had its share of great managers, including many from the team’s home state of Pennsylvania.

Who is the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Derek Shelton is the Pirates’ manager for the 2023 season – his fourth year with the club. He is overseeing a rebuild that has begun to show results this season, because the team is in contention for the NL Central Division title.

Under Shelton’s tutelage, young Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller has broken out, as has closer David Bednar.

Famous Pittsburgh Pirates Managers

Connie Mack is the winningest MLB manager of all time, but he achieved that record on the other side of the state with the Philadelphia Athletics after beginning his managerial career in Pittsburgh.

Before managing the Detroit Tigers, Jim Leyland had a successful 10-year stint with the Pirates. Former Pirates manager Clint Hurdle helped the team break its 20-year losing record back in 2013.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Pittsburgh Pirates Managers of all time

  1. Connie Mack

Years with Pirates: 1894 to 1896
Career Record with Pirates: 149-134-6
Honors and Awards: (all with the Athletics): World Series Champion (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930), Most Games Managed, Most Games Won, Baseball Hall of Fame (1937)

Connie Mack is both the winningest and losingest manager in baseball history, which is what happens when you manage for 53 (not a typo) years, including three with the Pirates and 50 with the Philadelphia Athletics.

The Brookfield, Mass.-born Mack started out his illustrious career in Pittsburgh, and while he isn’t renowned as the greatest Pirates manager of all time, he did lead them to consecutive full seasons above the .500 mark.

Mack was also quite the early baseball businessman, famously and perhaps cynically explaining: “It is more profitable for me to have a team that is in contention for most of the season but finishes about fourth. A team like that will draw well enough during the first part of the season to show a profit for the year and you don't have to give the players raises when they don’t win.” Sheesh.

  1. Pie Traynor

Years with Pirates: 1934 to 1939
Career Record with Pirates: 457-406 (.530)
Honors and Awards: Pirates Hall of Fame (2022), Baseball Hall of Fame (1948, as a player)

Harold Joseph “Pie” Traynor was also born in Massachusetts and received his quirky nickname from the pie shop he often visited in Somerville.

A Baseball Hall of Famer on the merits of his playing career, the third baseman transitioned to player-manager in 1934. His Pittsburgh squad was consistently near the top of the National League standings and nearly won the 1938 pennant, falling just short to the Chicago Cubs due to the famous “Homer in the Gloamin” game.

  1. Bill Virdon

Years with Pirates: 1972 to 1973
Career Record with Pirates: 163-128 (.560)
Honors and Awards: 1972 NL East Championship

The Hazel Park, Mich.-born Bill Virdon was a 1960 World Series champion with the Pirates during his playing career. After various stints in the minors and as an assistant coach following his retirement, he finally got his shot at the big time in 1972.

Virdon’s two seasons were arguably among the most emotionally difficult in Pirates history. After dominating the National League East during the 1972 season, Pittsburgh lost a heartbreaking Game 5 to the upstart Cincinnati Reds in the NL playoffs. During that offseason, star outfielder Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash while on his way to help provide aid to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.

Fired midway through the 1973 season, Virdon went on to have further managerial success with the Houston Astros, leading them to back-to-back NL West titles in 1980 and 1981.

  1. Frankie Frisch

Years with Pirates: 1940 to 1946
Career Record with Pirates: 530-528 (.505)
Honors and Awards: Baseball Hall of Fame (1947)

Born in the Bronx, Frankie Frisch had a successful playing career, winning two World Series apiece with both the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. He was a player-manager during his final season in St. Louis before joining the Pirates in 1940.

While he never captured a pennant, Frisch kept Pittsburgh competitive during the massive upheaval of World War II. He left the post in 1946 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947.

  1. Clint Hurdle

Years with Pirates: 2011 to 2019
Career Record with Pirates: 735-720 (.505)
Honors and Awards: NL Wild Card (2013, 2014, 2015), NL Manager of the Year (2013)

At long last, this list gets some modern-day representation! Who better to make that first appearance than Clint Hurdle, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-born manager who helped break one of North America’s most ignominious sports records.

The Pittsburgh Pirates had a losing record for 20 straight seasons from 1993 to 2012, the longest in MLB history. Naturally, they didn’t make the playoffs in any of those seasons.

Enter Hurdle and the 2013 season. Led by NL MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Comeback Player of the Year pitcher Francisco Liriano, the Pirates stormed to 94 wins and a Wild Card game appearance (where they defeated the rival Cincinnati Reds in front of an electric Pittsburgh crowd).

  1. Jim Leyland

Years with Pirates: 1986 to 1996
Career Record with Pirates: 851-863 (.496)
Honors and Awards: NL East Championship (1990, 1991, 1992), Manager of the Year (1990, 1992)

Born in Perrysburg, Ohio, the always-fiery Jim Leyland oversaw the Pirates’ most recent run of sustained success. He won Manager of the Year twice and guided the team to its last division crown back in 1992.

The 1992 playoffs were particularly devastating for Pirates fans. A loaded Pittsburgh team, led by MVP outfielder Barry Bonds, lost to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS in seven games for the second season in a row. Winning the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, Braves first basemen Sid Bream beat a Bonds throw from left field in a mad dash to the plate that knocked the Pirates out of the postseason for a second straight year. Pittsburgh had led 2-0 going into the bottom of the ninth before the Braves rallied for three runs to win it.

  1. Chuck Tanner

Years with Pirates: 1977 to 1985
Career Record with Pirates: 711-685 (.509)
Honors and Awards: World Series Championship (1979)

Tanner will always be remembered as the hometown kid who brought the World Series to western Pennsylvania. Born in New Castle, Pa., Tanner joined his local Pirates in 1977 after previous managerial stints with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics.

Stuck behind their in-state rivals for two seasons, the Pirates finally went ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1979 NL East standings and advanced to a World Series matchup against the Baltimore Orioles. The same two teams had met in the World Series eight years earlier.

Down 3-1 after Game 4, the Pirates came back to win the World Series in seven games – rallying to the beat of the team anthem, “We Are Family.” Pirates outfielder Willie Stargell went on a tear, winning World Series MVP honors and delivering both Pittsburgh and Tanner a title.

  1. Bill McKechnie

Years with Pirates: 1922 to 1926
Career Record with Pirates: 409-293 (.583)
Honors and Awards: World Series Championship (1925), Baseball Hall of Fame (1962)

Another Pennsylvania native, the Wilkinsburg-born Bill McKechnie took over the Pirates in 1922 with the team mired in a 13-year pennant drought.

Three third-place finishes in a row preceded an impressive 95 wins during the 1925 season, which set up a date with the Washington Senators in the World Series. A talented Pittsburgh team, led by third baseman Pie Traynor (see above) and outfielder Kiki Cuyler, won a grueling series in seven games.

McKechnie, who left the Pirates after 1926, has the second-best career winning percentage of all Pirates managers who held the job for at least one full season.

  1. Danny Murtaugh

Years with Pirates: 1957 to 1964, 1967, 1970 to 1971, 1973 to 1976
Career Record with Pirates: 1,115-950 (.540)
Honors and Awards: World Series Championship (1960, 1971), NL East Championship (1970, 1971, 1974, 1975)

When the Chester, Pa., native took over the Pirates in 1957, the team was in last place. By 1960, Danny Murtaugh had led Pittsburgh to an unlikely World Series victory over one of the most loaded New York Yankees teams of all time.

The first six games of the 1960 World Series featured three close Pirates victories and three Yankees victories by lopsided scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0, respectively. What happened next was legendary. Pirates' second basemen Bill Mazeroski slugged a walk-off home run to end Game 7, marking the first time the World Series ever ended on a walk-off.

Murtaugh had four separate stints as the Pirates’ manager. In his third stint, Pittsburgh defeated the Baltimore Orioles in seven games to claim the 1971 World Serie championship. That makes Murtaugh the only manager in Pirates history to win the World Series twice.

During that 1971 season, Murtaugh also fielded the first-ever all-black and Latino starting lineup in MLB history.

  1. Fred Clark

Years with Pirates: 1900 to 1915
Career Record with Pirates: 1,422-969 (.595)
Honors and Awards: World Series Championship (1909), National League Championship (1901, 1902, 1903, 1909)

Here’s a trivia question: What manager has the most wins in Pittsburgh Pirates history? Now here’s the answer: Fred Clark, who also guided the Pirates to the first World Series win in franchise history.

After growing up in Iowa, Clark played for the now-defunct Louisville Colonels before joining the Pirates in 1900 as a player-manager. His 1902 club went a staggering 103-36, which alone might qualify him as the greatest Pirates manager of all time.

As far as all other Pirates managers are concerned, no one should be ashamed of coming in on this list behind Clark and Murtaugh, who stand out clearly as the two best.

Parameters of Rankings

Four factors were considered in ranking this list of the top 10 managers in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Those factors were career winning percentage, World Series wins/appearances, total games managed, and individual outstanding achievements.

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