Bob Friend, Pirates pitching legend, dies at 88

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Bob Friend, an ironman right-handed pitcher who never spent a day on the disabled list during his 16-year Major League Baseball career, died Sunday from a cardiac event in his sleep. He was 88.

“It was sudden and there were no warning signs,” his son, also Bob Friend, a longtime pro golfer,said. “He wasn’t suffering and went out quickly and was discovered by my mother [Pat Friend] this morning.”

The elder Mr. Friend, who lived in O’Hara, was a poster boy for the Pirates in the 1950s and 1960s. The 20-year-old was thrust into the starting rotation in 1951 and asked to ride out the storm. The pitiful Pirates lost more than 100 games in three of his four seasons; he had 50 losses to his name before age 24.

As the kid pitcher grew, so did the ballclub. In 1955, Mr. Friend became the first pitcher to have the league’s lowest earned run average, at 2.83, while playing for a last-place team. In 1958, he led the league with a career-best 22 wins. In 1960, the four-time All-Star became a World Series champion.

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