Tuesday, August 04, 2009

#392 Bob Friend

#392 Bob Friend
I'm back from a long weekend in San Diego, and I'm wondering why Bob Friend is pitching right in front of the dugout. Maybe there's a raccoon loose in the bullpen. I am feeling those black stirrups with the yellow stripes, though.

Fun facts about Bob Friend:

-Bob pitched for Purdue University in his hometown of Lafayette, IN before signing with the Pirates.

-He made the Pirates club at age 20 and took a beating in his first four seasons, winning 28 and losing 50 despite a near-average 4.61 ERA. Of course, the Pirates weren't very good in those years.

-Broke out in 1955, going 14-9 in 44 games (20 starts) and leading the National League with a 2.83 ERA. He was the first pitcher to lead the league in earned run average while playing for a last-place club.

-The Bucs finally installed Friend in the rotation full-time the following year and he led the senior circuit in innings pitched over the next two seasons with 314 and one-third (!) and 277, respectively. He completed 36 games in those two years and made his first of three All-Star teams in 1956.

-With the Pirates becoming a contender, Bob tied for the league lead with 22 wins against 14 losses in 1958 and finished third in Cy Young voting.

-In 1960, he struck out a personal-best 183 batters and was very good (18-12, 3.00). However, he struggled in the World Series, losing both of his starts against the Yankees and having the tying runs charged to him in a ninth-inning appearance in the dramatic Game Seven. Of course, without that blown save, Bill Mazeroski would never be in the record books for winning the game in the bottom of the inning!

-Allowed the first of Pete Rose's record 4,256 hits, an eighth-inning triple on April 13, 1963.

-Eight of the top nine home run hitters vs. Friend are in the Hall of Fame. Check them out here.

-Retired after the 1966 season as the only pitcher with less than 200 wins (197) but more than 200 losses (230). As his 3.58 ERA suggests, he doesn't really deserve this ignominy. He also completed one-third of the games he started (163 of 497).

-Was inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame in 1979. Still lives in the Pittsburgh area.
#392 Bob Friend (back)


  1. Did you go to Balboa Park in San Diego? That's a pretty cool place.

  2. Matt - Not this time, but I did walk through it on my way to the zoo the last time I was out there in February. This time we caught a Padres game at Petco and explored Torrey Pines park. Great stuff.