Bill Mazeroski gives Alex Presley a fist bump as Bill Virdon looks on. (AP)After one whole game, the ceremonial coaching careers of Bill Mazeroski and Bill Virdon came to an unfortunate and premature end on Wednesday night.
Though the Pittsburgh Pirates planned to have the two team legends in the dugout for the entire series against the Minnesota Twins, Major League Baseball told the team it was in violation of a rule that limits the number of personnel in a dugout.
Mazeroski and Virdon were in uniform for Tuesday's game against Minnesota and sat on the bench, but they had to retreat to box seats for Wednesday's contest after MLB made its call.
It wasn't a ruling that surprised Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
"I was told that'd be the end of it. It did not surprise me," Hurdle admitted prior to Wednesday night's second game of the interleague series with Minnesota at PNC Park. "It wasn't really within the rules and regulations of the game, which I might have overlooked in my excitement to get them involved."
Hurdle had an inkling that what he was doing was less than kosher. He sought and received an approval from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire before Tuesday's game.
Mazeroski and Virdon — both members of the 1960 World Series title team — appeared to have a great time while serving their ambassadorial roles. Both doled out encouragement and fist pumps to players during Tuesday's game and catcher Michael McKenry said he enjoyed talking with Mazeroski on the bench because the Hall of Fame second baseman was also under 6-feet tall when he played.
It's hard to imagine what real beef MLB would have with the two men spending two extra games on the bench. There's no way either guy gave the Pirates a measurable advantage over the Twins. If Gardenhire or the Twins didn't object, why should the league?
I'd imagine it had a lot to do with setting a precedent. While the Pirates seemed cool with having the two old-timers around, maybe coaches and players on other teams wouldn't be as fond of their dugout turning into an annual reunion spot?