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Bob Friend (1930–2019), longtime Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher

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Set franchise records in starts, innings pitched, and strikeouts

Bob Friend was a longtime stalwart pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched for the Pirates from 1951 to 1965. Over the course of his 15 seasons with the team he set franchise records in starts (477), innings pitched (3,480 1/3), and strikeouts (1,682). During his final season in the majors he played for the New York Mets and New York Yankees.  

Friend was a bright spot on a frequently dismal Pirates team during the 1950s. Despite leading the National League with the lowest Earned Run Average (2.83) in 1955, the team finished last in the league standings. However, the three-time All-Star was rewarded for his perseverance when the Pirates defeated the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series.  

Following his playing days Friend became active in local Pittsburgh politics, sold mutual funds, and was an insurance broker. His son, Bob Friend, Jr., was a professional golfer.  

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Died: Sunday, February 3, 2019 (Who else died on February 3?)  

Details of death: Died in Pittsburgh of cardiac arrest at the age of 88.  


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Hard luck pitcher: Despite his consistent performance over the years, Friend lost more games than he won. Fans fondly remember his many pitching duels against other greats that were undermined by low run support from his team.  

Notable quote: “When you’re winning like we are, you can’t wait to get to the ballpark. You wonder, ‘How the hell are we going to win it tonight? What doggone thing are we going to do to win this one?’” he told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter Myron Cope during the Pirates’ memorable 1960 World Series-winning season.  

What people said about him: “My father was a Renaissance man. He sang in a barbershop quartet in high school and college and was recruited by the Pirates right out of high school. But went back to Purdue for seven off seasons and earned a degree in economics.” —Bob Friend, Jr., son  

Full obituary: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Related lives:  

 - Willie McCovey (1938–2018), Hall of Fame San Francisco Giants Slugger

 - Red Schoendienst (1923–2018), baseball Hall of Famer played for 19 years  

 - Bruce Kison (1950–2018), former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher