Bill Virdon--1958

While most of my scouting travels around
the country take me along the
interstates, occasionally I have to veer
off the highways and onto the back
roads. It was while I was traveling from
Birmingham, AL to Springfield, MO that I
came to a small towns historic baseball

In the far corner of Southwest Missouri
lies the sleepy  town of West Plains.
Traveling along Rt.-63 on the eastern
edge of town, I came across Bill Virdon
Blvd. Continuing along     Rt.-63 on the
South side of West Plains I came to a
major intersection, where the road that
crossed in front of me was Preacher Roe

How wonderful for the town of just over
11,000 to honor their  two former big

Virdon would enjoy a long career in
baseball, first as a defensive-minded
center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates
during the 1950’s and ‘60’s. He would hit .
267 during his 12-year career, while
gathering honors as the 1955 Rookie of
Year and a Gold Glove (1962), along
with being the Pirates center fielder on
their 1960 World Championship club.

After his playing days, Virdon would
manage the Pirates, Yankees, Houston
and Expos during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Virdon would produce playoff teams for
Pittsburgh (1972) and Houston (1980 & ’
81), while posting a career 995-921 mark
as a skipper.

A native of Arkansas, Preacher Roe
would make West Plains his home
following his big league career. There he
operated a small grocery store and we
guess that he told a few tales from his 12-
year career with the Pirates and
Brooklyn Dodgers. A crafty southpaw,
Roe was a 20-game winner in 1951 and
recorded a stellar 127-84, 3.43 mark
during his career. A four-time All-Star,
Roe also went 2-1 in World Series play,
though the Dodgers failed to best the
Yankees in any of the Series (1949, ’52,’

Unfortunately the two favorite sons of
West  Plains never faced off against
each as Roe’s career ended just as
Virdon’s began.

Editor’s Note: I have on several
occasions run into Virdon at a Springfield
Cardinals, Double-A game--- he’s truly a
very nice man. Though raised in Danville,
IL  one of my favorites, Dick Van Dyke,  
was born in West Plains, MO.