The Pirates have hired Clint Hurdle, the former Texas Rangers' hitting coach, as their 39th manager, 10 days after interviewing him, an industry source said today. Team president Frank Coonelly said the team will hold a press conference Monday morning to announce its new manager, though he would not say who that was. The press conference will be at 11 a.m.
In the 41 days this manager search spanned, the San Francisco Giants won their first World Series since moving west, the Republicans gained 60 seats in the House and Conan O'Brien found his way back on television.
Amidst all this, the Pirates waited for Hurdle. Waited for the World Series to conclude and waited for Hurdle to interview with the Mets. The Pirates chose Hurdle over Jeff Banister, their most recent bench coach and a longtime member of the organization. They interviewed eight candidates, but narrowed their choice to Hurdle or Banister on Nov. 3. Hurdle interviewed with the team the following day.
Hurdle also interviewed with the Mets on Nov. 10.
Hurdle, 53, replaces John Russell, who managed the Pirates from 2008-2010 and compiled a total record of 186-299. The Pirates finished last in the National League Central each year, and lost 105 games this season. The Pirates fired Russell the day after the season ended.
They also interviewed former Indians manager Eric Wedge, who took the vacant Seattle Mariners manager job, and former Milwaukee Brewers manager and Pittsburgh native Ken Macha.
Now Hurdle inherits a team whose starting pitchers lost 84 games last season and had the worst ERA in Major League Baseball, whose defense tied for the most errors committed and whose offense finished with the league's second-lowest batting average.
In hiring Hurdle, the Pirates chose someone who succeeded with an under-performing team. Hurdle managed the Colorado Rockies for parts of eight seasons, from 2002-09, and took them to the World Series in 2007. The Rockies hadn't finished better than third in the National League West since 1997 prior to the Series run. During "Rocktober," Hurdle's Rockies won 14 of their last 15 regular-season games, beat the San Diego Padres in a one-game playoff for the wild-card playoff berth and swept the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks to reach the World Series before losing to the Boston Red Sox in four games.
That 2007 season, however, was his only one in Colorado with a winning record, and he was fired in early 2009 with an 18-28 record. He worked as a studio analyst for the MLB Network in 2009 and became the Rangers' hitting coach for the 2010 season.
Hurdle started managing in the Mets' minor-league organization. He managed the Class A St. Lucie Mets in 1988-89 and the Class AA Jackson Mets from 1990-91. He led the Class AAA Tidewater/Norfolk Tides in 1992-93, and joined the Rockies as a minor-league hitting instructor in 1994. He became the Rockies' hitting coach in 1997 and replaced Buddy Bell as manager in 2002.
Hurdle played the majority of his 10 seasons in the major leagues as an outfielder, with the Kansas City Royals, the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Mets. He had 32 career home runs and a career average of .259. He played in 133 games for the Royals at age 20 in 1978 and played four different positions over the course of the season.
The Royals drafted ninth overall in the 1975 draft, and by September 1977 he reached the major leagues. He batted .329 in the strike-shortened 1981 season, but hurt his back and never returned to form.
Hurdle and his wife, Karla, have two children, Madison and Christian. Madison has Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects muscle development and appetite, and Hurdle is a spokesperson for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association, Hurdle also has an older daughter, Ashley.