Bob Friend

From BR Bullpen

1959 Topps

Robert Bartmess Friend

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Bob Friend was a premier pitcher during a long major league career, spending almost all of his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His career record of 197-230 reflects the fact that much of his career was spent with the losing Buccos of the 1950s and often received very minimal run support. Despite this, he won 10 or more games nine times during his 16-year ML career.

Signed by the Pirates in 1949, he was a regular by 1951 at age 20. The Pirates were a perennial loser at the time and didn't get over .500 until 1958. Although the 1955 team finished last in the National League with a 60-94 record, Friend led the circuit with a 2.83 ERA. His 14-9 record in 1955 represented 23 percent of the team's 60 wins. He led the NL in games started in 1956, 1957 and 1958 as well as innings pitched in 1956 (314.1) and 1957 (277). Friend was 17-17 in 1956 but lost games by scores of 3-2, 3-2, 3-0, 3-2 and 3-1. The Pirates became pennant contenders in 1958, finishing in second place with an 84-70 record as Friend tied Warren Spahn for the major league lead in wins with 22 and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting.

Friend battled weight problems in 1959, going 8-19. But he rebounded in 1960, going 18-12 with one of the top winning percentages and ERA's in the league. He and Vern Law provided the Pirates with a pair of ace pitchers, leading the Pirates to the 1960 Championship. Law won the Cy Young Award in 1960 with a 20-9 record and an ERA of 3.08. But Friend had a lower ERA (3.00), more innings and more strikeouts than Law and also lost games by scores of 3-1, 2-0, 3-1, 3-2, and 3-1. Thus, with better run support, the hard-luck Friend could have gone 23-7 and won the Cy Young Award himself. In 1961 he again led the league in losses, but in 1962 and 1963 he was among the league leaders in ERA and wins. His 1962 record was 18-14 but he lost games of 3-1, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 2-0. He was 17-16 in 1963 but lost games by 1-0, 3-1, 1-0, 2-0, 3-1, 1-0, 3-2 and 3-1. Thus, with better run support, Friend could have been 24-8 in 1962 and 25-8 in 1963. Thus, despite losing more games than he won in his career, Friend was one of the premier pitchers of his era. His career spanned 16 years, he started 497 games, had 163 complete games, 197 wins, had an ERA of 3.58 and 1,734 strikeouts.

He was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.

He is one of three players with the last name Friend, one of whom was his contemporary Owen Friend.

Friend was a gifted pianist who also sang in barbershop quartets for a period. After his baseball career, he was elected Allegheny County Controller from 1967-1975. His son, also Bob Friend, was a PGA golfer for years.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1956, 1958 & 1960)
  • NL ERA Leader (1955)
  • NL Wins Leader (1958)
  • 2-time NL Innings Pitched Leader (1956 & 1957)
  • NL Shutouts Leader (1962)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 5 (1956, 1958, 1960, 1962 & 1963)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1958)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 11 (1955-1965)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1956)
  • Won a World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960

Further Reading[edit]

  • Clifton Blue Parker: "Bob Friend", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 73-78. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9

Related Sites[edit]