On Sunday February 3, former Pirate pitcher Bob Friend died at age 88. Mr. Friend pitched for the Bucs from 1950-1965 and is the franchise leader in innings, games started, and strikeouts. He ranks second in franchise history with 35 shutouts, and fourth in wins with 191. He finished third in Cy Young voting in 1958, and was a three-time All-Star. His complete career stats are available at baseball reference.
Mr. Friend had significant local connections. He developed a friendship with Dave Gallaher of Clearfield Machine in the late 1970’s. “It started as an insurance thing”, said Gallaher. “Bob was working for an insurance broker in Pittsburgh and reached out to my company to help us. It developed into a 40-year friendship”.
Over the years, Mr. Friend spent many days on our local golf courses. “Bob would come up every year for the Clearfield-Curwensville Country Club member-guest tournament, and for many years we also played in the Lezzer tournament in DuBois together. Bob was a very good golfer, a single-digit handicap”, said Gallaher. “He also would bring several of us from Clearfield down to his home course at Oakmont every year. I think I’ve probably played more rounds at Oakmont than any other course aside from CCCC, and that’s thanks to Bob”, Gallaher said. “He also attended dozens of Penn State football games with me”.
Carl Ogden also had fond memories of time spent with the Friend family. “Dave [Gallaher] has been my friend for over 50 years, and I got to know Bob Friend as well when he’d come up. To my recollection, I believe I played golf five times with Bob, including at least once at Oakmont. Once, I hosted a large dinner party for the member-guest tournament at my farm, and Bob and [his wife] Pat attended. I distinctly recall my wife Tish taking Pat to the barn, and showing Pat how to feed a newborn calf from a bottle. Pat really seemed to enjoy that”, Ogden said.
Both Mr. Gallaher and Mr. Ogden expressed sincere admiration and respect for Mr. Friend. “Oh, he was a super nice guy”, said Gallaher. “He and Pat were both dear friends. She was great, she always called Bob ‘Pitch’ – that was her nickname for him. Bob was always a pleasure to be around”.
“I considered him the consummate gentleman”, said Ogden. “He was a pro ballplayer, but he was always so down to earth. I’d also like to add that in my opinion, he was one of the very best athletes to ever wear the Pirate uniform”.