Bill Virdon, the steady center fielder who won the 1955 National League Rookie of the Year award as a St. Louis Cardinal and guided the Houston Astros to three straight postseason appearances as a manager, died Nov. 23 at a hospital in Springfield, Mo. He was 90.

His death was announced by Major League Baseball. No cause of death was given.

Mr. Virdon was a career .267 hitter in 12 seasons with St. Louis and Pittsburgh, winning a World Series in 1960 with the Pirates and a Gold Glove in 1962. He retired in 1968 and became a coach and manager. In a 13-year managerial career with Pittsburgh, the New York Yankees, Houston and Montreal, he compiled a record of 995-921.

His greatest success came during an eight-year run with the Astros from 1975 to 1982, when he led the franchise to its first two postseason appearances, both ending with five-game losses. Houston lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980 NL Championship Series and then to the Los Angeles Dodgers in an NL Division Series.

Mr. Virdon remains Houston’s career wins leader as a manager, with 544. He was voted NL Manager of the Year in 1980 after guiding the Astros to the NL West title, which they won after defeating the Dodgers in a one-game playoff.

William Charles Virdon was born June 9, 1931, in Hazel Park, Mich. His parents had moved from Missouri to find work in Detroit’s auto factories during the Depression. When Mr. Virdon was 12, his family returned to West Plains, Mo. His father ran a general store, and his mother was a homemaker.

He was signed by the Yankees in 1950 and traded to the Cardinals in April 1954 in a deal that sent star outfielder Enos Slaughter to New York.

The bespectacled, left-hand-hitting Mr. Virdon reached the majors in 1955. He took over as the Cardinals’ center fielder as Wally Moon was moved to right field and veteran outfielder Stan Musial was moved to first base. Mr. Virdon hit .281 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs while serving as one of the few bright spots for a team that finished next to last in the National League.

In May 1956, the Cardinals traded Mr. Virdon to Pittsburgh, where he flourished and had a career-best batting average of .319 that season. He played alongside Roberto Clemente, the Pirates’ Hall of Fame right fielder.

In the 1960 World Series, Mr. Virdon played a key role in the Pirates’ stunning upset of the Yankees. He had two hits in Game 7, including a sharp single to shortstop in the seventh inning that helped the Pirates rally to a 10-9 victory after falling behind 7-4.

Mr. Virdon finished with 1,596 hits, including 91 home runs and 502 RBIs, in 12 seasons. He won a second World Series with Pittsburgh in 1971 while serving as a coach under Manager Danny Murtaugh. He replaced Murtaugh as manager in 1972.

After he was fired in 1973, Mr. Virdon became manager of the Yankees and led the team to a second-place finish in 1974. He was dismissed the next year, when Yankees owner George Steinbrenner hired Billy Martin as manager for the first of five times.

Mr. Virdon then went to Houston, where he molded the Astros into contenders around a pitching staff that included Nolan Ryan, Joe Niekro and J.R. Richard. The Astros reached the playoffs for the first time in team history in 1980 after a 7-1 triumph over the Dodgers in a tiebreaker game.

Houston made the postseason again during the strike-shortened 1981 season. Mr. Virdon left Houston after the 1982 season, then managed the Montreal Expos in 1983 and 1984. He later worked as a coach for several teams but never managed again before his retirement from baseball in 2002. He continued to work as a spring training coach for the Pirates well into his 80s.

Survivors include his wife of 70 years, Shirley Virdon; three daughters; seven grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.