Bob Friend was durable. He was never on the disabled list at any point in his career, but that didn’t stop him from hanging around the office of the team doctor. He married the resident nurse.
This durability helped Friend shoulder the heavy lifting required to take the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates from the National League basement to a World Series Championship in 1960. Often receiving little in the way of run support, he captured the 1955 National League ERA title while pitching for a last place team. Given his superb control he could have put together an impressive career if he played with a perennial winner like the Yankees, potentially earning more than a passing look from Cooperstown.
Perhaps his trials with Pittsburgh were a form of public service. He made a point of representing others both during and after his playing days. With the Pirates he was a team and later league representative in what would become the players’ union. After baseball he served as a local controller in Pennsylvania and appeared as a delegate at multiple Republican National Conventions.
Additional Friend Facts: He sang barbershop music and could play the piano.
Additional Baseball Card Spotlight: 1958 Topps #492
By 1958 Friend and the Pirates had established themselves as a contending force in the National League. Two years later the team would defeat New York in dramatic fashion to capture the World Series title with Friend playing a leading role subduing Yankee batters. He had been the starting pitcher for the National League in the 1956 All-Star Game and was the first out the bullpen in the ’58 rematch.
Topps created a subset late in the 1958 season with the introduction of the Sport Magazine All Star Selections subset. National League players appeared superimposed over a blue star-studded backdrop and their American League counterparts were portrayed in red. The cards are heavily favored by collectors and provide an affordable cross-section of the decade’s best players.