Thursday, March 10, 2011
#76) BOB FRIEND
Bob Friend joined the New York Mets when his contract was purchased from the crosstown New York Yankees on June 15, 1966. The veteran right-hander was previously a three time All-Star during his 15 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He joined the New York staff as a starting pitcher and long reliever out of the bullpen. Friend made his Mets debut on June 18th throwing four plus innings as the starter facing the Reds in Cincinnati.
Bob threw consecutive complete games victories for New York on July 17th and July 22nd. However, his greatest performance as a Met came at Shea Stadium on August 30th. The visiting Los Angeles Dodgers were pitching legendary Sandy Koufax that game. Tug McGraw started for the home team, but was lifted in the second inning in favor of Friend. The Mets offense rallied for five runs off Koufax in the third inning and forced his earliest career departure facing New York. Bob would finish the final seven and a third innings to record the victory in the Mets 10-4 win. It was only one of two career losses that Koufax would ever surrender to the Mets and was the final victory earned by Friend in his illustrious career. Bob would retire from baseball following the conclusion of the 1966 season.
Friend was born in Lafayette, Indiana, but returned to the Pittsburgh area following his retirement from baseball. Bob ran for the office of Comptroller of Allegheny County and upon winning served a pair of four-year terms from 1967 to 1975. During that time he was selected as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1968 and 1972. Then a third time in 1980. Over the years he had several encounters with President Richard Nixon, who was always ready to talk sports. "He kept up on different players and what they were hitting," said Friend. "I was really impressed with that."
After deciding not to seek a third term, Bob sold insurance for 25 years before retiring in 2002. It allowed him the opportunity to dedicate more time to his long-time hobby of golf. His son, Bob Friend, Jr. was a professional golfer playing on the PGA and Nationwide tours from 1990 through 2003.
Bob Friend signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on August 26, 2009.