Former Pirates GM Brown dies at 91

Former Pirates GM Brown dies at 91

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates lost a key member of the organization's history on Sunday with the passing of former general manager Joe L. Brown. Brown, whose tenure as Pittsburgh's GM included two World Series championships, was 91.

The club announced Brown's death in a news release on Monday morning. Brown died in Albuquerque, N.M., which is where his daughter resides.

"The news of Joe's passing yesterday afternoon at the age of 91 was met with great sadness by everyone within the Pirates organization," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a written statement. "Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to his daughter, Cynthia, his son, Don, and his family and friends. He was a great man and true Pittsburgh Pirate. He will be missed by everyone within the Pirates family."

Brown was named the team's general manager at the end of the 1955 season -- succeeding Branch Rickey, who had elected to retire. Brown served in that role until 1976, crafting several World Series teams -- including the 1960 and 1971 clubs. He briefly returned to the Pirates' front office in 1985 to serve as acting general manager, before the club hired Syd Thrift to fill the role.

Brown's affiliation with the Pirates began in 1950, when he started working as the business manager for one of the organization's farm clubs. He also served the Pirates as a scout after his time as a GM.

One of Brown's most notable moves was the hiring of Danny Murtaugh in 1957. Murtaugh replaced Bobby Bragan -- who Brown named to the managerial post at the beginning of his GM stint -- and managed both the '60 and '71 World Series championship teams.

Brown made scouting and signing players out of Latin America a priority. He also helped construct the 1960 team by trading for Bill Virdon, Harvey Haddix, Don Hoak and Smokey Burgess in the late '50s.

His last visit to Pittsburgh came about two months ago, when Brown joined members of the 1960 team at PNC Park to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the organization's third World Series title. Brown was recognized in a pregame ceremony on June 19.

"As the architect behind the 1960 and 1971 World Series teams, we were honored that Joe was able to return to Pittsburgh in June to help us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1960 team," Coonelly said. "The ovation he received from the crowd prior to the game was a special moment for Joe and his family -- as was his company the entire weekend for all of us."

Brown spoke with current GM Neal Huntington, as well as other members of the organization, during that return to Pittsburgh. He also offered his thoughts on the direction of the Pirates -- pulling from his experience of helping to resurrect a struggling franchise in the 1950s.

"Patience will determine where this club goes," Brown said at the time. "Management will have more patience than the fans will. There are young players with talent on the Pirates now, but they've got to mature and learn to play the game at the Major League level and be confident in their ability that they are going to be good."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Bailey Stephens is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.