McClendon said he has been managing other players, even while a player himself, throughout his baseball career.
The Pirates are coming off a 93-loss season their eighth consecutive losing season, the organization's longest such streak since the mid-1950s.
"We've got to regain our dignity, we've got to regain our pride, and we're going to start doing that right away," McClendon said.
General manager Cam Bonifay and Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy compared their top three candidates for the job, and both had McClendon at the top of the list.
"The most important thing to me about our new manager is the ability to motivate and the ability to communicate with the people because he understands what being a major league player is all about," Bonifay said.
"His presence, his demeanor is one of a winner," Bonifay said.
McClendon took an overnight flight to Pittsburgh from Phoenix, where he was managing in the Arizona Fall League.
McClendon, a 41-year-old former Pirates player who hit .244 in an eight-year major league career, will become the fifth black manager in the majors, joining the Giants' Dusty Baker, the Cubs' Don Baylor, the White Sox's Jerry Manuel and the Brewers' Davey Lopes.
Known for his abilities to motivate and work with younger players, McClendon's only managerial experience was leading the Lancaster Stealth to the California League fall championship last year.
The Pirates have declined to comment on their search for nearly a week since they wrapped up 10 interviews, including those with former Arizona manager Buck Showalter and three major league bench coaches: Ron Wotus of San Francisco, Grady Little of Cleveland and Ken Macha of Oakland.
However, after the Pirates told some candidates, including Showalter, they would not get back to them until after the World Series, they began calling other candidates early Monday to tell them they had picked a new manager.
McClendon also had what he called an excellent interview with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Pirates may have moved to prevent the Phillies from hiring him.
McClendon played in the majors for the Reds (1987-88), the Cubs (1989-90) and the Pirates (1990-94), hitting 35 homers with 154 RBIs in 570 games.
McClendon was enthusiastically supported by some Pirates players, including first baseman Kevin Young, who said he felt McClendon was the best man for the job.
Still, the decision may not please some Pirates fans unhappy the team has again hired from within the organization, as they did by promoting Lamont from third base coach to manager in 1997. Also, the Pirates chose not to hire an experienced manager as they move int new PNC Park next year, a decision that might not spur ticket sales.
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