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Author Topic: Pirates' Bob Friend  (Read 712 times)
JoeC
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« on: February 04, 2019, 02:54:22 PM »

RIP. Sudden heart attack.

Per the Postburgh Post-Gazette: In 1955, Friend became the first Pirates pitcher to lead his league in ERA, winning the NL title with a 2.83 mark. He topped the majors in innings in 1956-57 and tied Warren Spahn for the big league lead with 22 wins in 1958.

That season came during a string of 11 straight years in which he pitched more than 200 innings, topping 260 in six of them.

Of the Pirates three losses in the 1960 WS, Bob lost two of them, with an ERA of 13.50.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 02:56:42 PM by JoeC » Logged
bklynmike101
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2019, 08:34:38 PM »

One of the members of that great (broke my 8 year old heart Maz did) '60 Pirates team that lost 3 WS games by huge scores to my Bombers but  somehow won the series 4 games to 3. Let's see...

Forrest "Smokey" Burgess and one of the two Hal Smith's behind the plate, Rocky Nelson and Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart at 1B, Maz, Dick Groat (former Ft. Wayne Piston in the NBA and '60 NL MVP), hot-headed Don Hoak - rounding out the IF. Bob Skinner, Bill Virdon, and that ex-Dodger organization rightfielder who went to on to collect exactly 3000 hits in the OF. Roy Face, Vern Law, Mr. Friend (RIP).

Friend was 88.
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JoeC
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2019, 09:14:29 PM »

NYY hit .338 as a team in that '60 series. Everyone hit well.

Didn't Friend end his career pitching for the Yanks or Mets? Mid-60s?

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bklynmike101
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2019, 12:07:24 PM »

Joe,

Better than that - he hurled for both NY teams in his final year - '66.
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JoeC
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2019, 12:57:11 PM »

Joe,

Better than that - he hurled for both NY teams in his final year - '66.

Wow! Had forgotten he was with both NY teams.
 
As good a right hander as he was (ERA title, winning 22 games one year, etc. with a good fastball and sinker IIRC), he was never the type of pitcher I feared to face (as a NY Giants fan). Sort of like a very poor man's Robin Roberts. Not exactly dominant most seasons; he could be hit.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2019, 12:24:25 PM »

Friend was a solid number 2 or 3 starter, solid rotation guy, etc., but not quite a # 1 caliber guy. If he played today, he'd be earning $15M (or better) per year on a long-term deal. I remember reading about Roy Face, a top "closer" in his prime and long-time teammate of Friend, working as a house painter for many years after his retirement.  I think Dick Stuart worked on a tugboat in NYC for a  spell. Hope he didn't  drop to many tug lines  Grin
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JoeC
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2019, 12:42:46 PM »

Friend was a solid number 2 or 3 starter, solid rotation guy, etc., but not quite a # 1 caliber guy. If he played today, he'd be earning $15M (or better) per year on a long-term deal. I remember reading about Roy Face, a top "closer" in his prime and long-time teammate of Friend, working as a house painter for many years after his retirement.  I think Dick Stuart worked on a tugboat in NYC for a  spell. Hope he didn't  drop to many tug lines  Grin

Mike, Today, that 1-2 combo of Vern Law and Bob Friend would be much celebrated. And, along with Face, they eventually did bring the bottom of the barrel Pirates a WS championship.

Bob seems to have had a great life after baseball.

For the opposite case, I always think of Carl Furillo. Not beloved by his own team when he played, he ended up suing the Dodgers in 1960 and winning the suit for $21,000 (he claimed LA cut him to prevent him getting his 15 years in). Then, per Wiki, he worked installing elevators at the World Trade Center. During the mid-1960s, he owned and operated a deli in Flushing. That failed and he later worked as a night watchman; developed leukemia, and died in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania at 66 years of age of an apparent heart attack.

He was bitter to the end, always saying that baseball completely forgot about him and his accomplishments. Duke and Sandy, and a few others, did make it to his funeral outside Reading, Pa. The "Reading Rifle." What an arm, and a fine hitter.

I think some of his standoffish personality and bitterness came from an inferiority complex about only making it through 7th grade.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 01:17:04 AM »

Joe,

I recall reading several post-baseball stories about Furillo. Based on his stats, he could still hit when he was retired from baseball. Always seemed a bit strange to me that no one gave him a shot after being released by LA in early '60. My guess is that on balance his complaints as to his treatment were justified. 
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 12:59:52 AM »

RIP. recall  him. from Mets.   Furillo   was well  liked at  Dodger  adult camp--missed him by   couple  yrs.
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JoeC
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2019, 09:40:52 AM »

Doc,
 
Glad to hear he was at those Dodger camps. That would indicate he buried the hatchet in terms of bad blood with the LA org, and the fact he was well-liked goes against his "loner" image. Or, maybe he just needed the money at that point. Whatever, he was a clutch hitter, a lot like Hank Bauer with the Yanks, but with an elite throwing arm. Turned so many doubles off that right field wall at Ebbets into singles.

If I'm remembering right, out of all his teammates, I think he disliked Jackie most. Think I read that somewhere. Nothing racist, (I don't think he was signing petitions like Bobby Bragan or Dixie Walker or Stanky), I think the two men just never got along. If it had been racial, Rickey would have shipped him out like the others.

Trivia: Carl's other nickname was Skoonj, for his love of eating snails (scungilli).
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Gino
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 03:17:47 PM »

Scungilli ain't snails, they're conch.
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"Grease for Peace!!"
Gino
JoeC
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 05:41:02 PM »

Scungilli ain't snails, they're conch.

When we think of edible snails, we usually think of land snails -- escargot. But ... a conch is also a snail, just a larger variety of sea snail.
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2019, 01:02:07 AM »

Believe  concha is   Spanish word for  snail. 

Joe--could  be right about  $. They  got about  $4k   for the week . He was always spoken of  well  by those who  met him.  BTW,I was  very impressed
 by  the Brooklyn guys.     Roe, Campy,  Abrams,   Branca, Erskine  Labine  --all great  MEN.  The not so nice are easy to   guess--Snider & LaSorda.

Clem  once did  a  little bragging--he pitched a shutout  in the 1951 game before Branca .And a shutout  AFTER Larsen's perfecto. And he  reminded me he was  on the 1960 Pirates.

The camp  was  full  of business guys,drs, lawyers--not many guys can afford$5k   fora week   of fun. THey  knew we allhad more schooling than them.

RIP--all but  Erskine  &  Tommy.
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JoeC
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2019, 09:32:11 AM »

Doc, When I first read "Boys of Summer" by Roger Kahn I thought he was embellishing the images of most of the guys on that team. Over time, I came to the conclusion that most of them truly were the impressive guys he painted them as. Your personal experience adds to that image I now carry. It's nice when you find some boyhood heroes didn't have feet of clay.
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2019, 01:49:26 PM »

Agree  Joe.  I  even liked  Billy  Loes.(Greek?)   Not real name.   I enjoyed my breakfasts with him.  But he was  not understood by anyone but me--must be my understanding  of eccentrics.    So poor Billy--on welfare--  was never invited  back.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2019, 02:47:27 PM »

Supposedly Loes once claimed to have "lost a ground ball in the sun". Eccentric, yes.  As for '"friendly" encounters, I once passed Campy being wheeled outside Yankee Stadium (old timers' day) and thought (wishful thinking perhaps) that he smiled back at me when I looked/smiled at him. Labine, responded courteously and promptly to my autograph request note/baseball card, as I'd mentioned the Rhode Island connection between he (he lived there) and my girlfriend (Rhode Island native) at the time.

LaSorda, as graduation guest speaker some 5-8 years ago at the college where my wife works, was cordial and friendly, although he did fall asleep during the ceremony. We do have a picture of him with my wife. Of course, he was well paid for his brief speech.     
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2019, 08:15:43 PM »

Loes  also said--"I dont  want  to win 20 games. Then they expect  it every year."
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jp05
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2019, 09:27:05 AM »

Until I saw Dwight Evans with the Red Sox, I thought Carl Furillo had the best arm in right field.
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JoeC
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« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2019, 05:31:50 PM »

Until I saw Dwight Evans with the Red Sox, I thought Carl Furillo had the best arm in right field.

Both of their arms were great. A few other RFs  to consider: Vlad Guerrero, Dave Parker and Jesse Barfield. For CFs, I'd go with Ken Griffey. Mickey Mantle would be in the discussion. Bo Jackson threw pretty good from LF.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2019, 11:54:26 AM »

Add Rocky Colavito to the list. He had a gun although you never knew where the ball would go.
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JoeC
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« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2019, 01:30:34 PM »

Add Rocky Colavito to the list. He had a gun although you never knew where the ball would go.

How much bigger a star would Rocky have been if he had played for the Yanks in his native Bronx? Scary to think!  BTW, Rocky is still with us at 85!
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Robb_K
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« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2019, 07:21:46 PM »

Both Bob Clemente and Hank Aaron had good arms.
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2019, 09:39:29 PM »

Robb-although  announcer  called him Bobby, Clemente  has  been  called Roberto  at least since his  death or  earlier.    But I know u have out of touch w/baseball   for  many yrs.
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jp05
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« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2019, 10:05:22 PM »

All good suggestions on "rifle arms". BTW, Aaron Judge of the Yankees seems to have a rifle too!
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JoeC
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2019, 10:01:45 AM »

All good suggestions on "rifle arms". BTW, Aaron Judge of the Yankees seems to have a rifle too!

Guy is a freak of nature. How did 31 teams pass on him in the draft?
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2019, 12:49:24 PM »

Judge has a great attitude too.  Colavito eventually did make it into pinstripes, but alas his talent had diminished by then. He even pitched in a few games. Wasn't bad either. Famously as HR king traded for the batting champ Harvey Kuenn by "mad man" GM Frank Lane who would trade his right sock for his left sock when he could.   
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JoeC
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« Reply #26 on: March 01, 2019, 01:25:56 PM »

Judge has a great attitude too.  Colavito eventually did make it into pinstripes, but alas his talent had diminished by then. He even pitched in a few games. Wasn't bad either. Famously as HR king traded for the batting champ Harvey Kuenn by "mad man" GM Frank Lane who would trade his right sock for his left sock when he could.   

Harvey Kuenn was a very good player. Won a batting championship one year if I recall. But ... nowhere near RC's level.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #27 on: March 01, 2019, 07:12:02 PM »

Later had success as Manager of Harvey's Wallbangers with '82 (I think) Brewers.
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JoeC
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« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2019, 09:10:59 PM »

Later had success as Manager of Harvey's Wallbangers with '82 (I think) Brewers.

Didn't he have a leg amputated the year before he managed that 82 team? Diabetes complications? Great line drive hitter.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #29 on: March 02, 2019, 12:41:00 PM »

I think that's right. Died relatively young too. Glad Rocco Domenico (Colavito) is still with us. Always liked him as a player.
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