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Pirates great Bob Friend dies at 88

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Bob Friend, who pitched more innings than anyone in Pittsburgh Pirates history, died Sunday. He was 88.

The Pirates said Friend died at his home in Pittsburgh.

Friend holds the Pirates record for innings (3,480 1/3), starts (477) and strikeouts (1,682). The right-hander was an All-Star in three different seasons – in 1960, he made the NL roster for both All-Star games played that summer, and was the starter and winner in the first one.

Friend made his big league debut with two shutout innings for the Pirates against Cincinnati as a 20-year-old on April 28, 1951. He became a fixture in Pittsburgh’s rotation through 1965 and then played one more season, splitting his last year with the New York Yankees and Mets.

Nicknamed “The Warrior” for his remarkable durability, Friend went 197-230 with a 3.58 ERA in 602 games.

In 1955, Friend became the first 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, finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting.

In 1960, Friend was 18-12 with a 3.00 ERA in helping the Pirates reach the World Series. He was hit hard in two starts and a relief appearance, but Pittsburgh outlasted the Yankees in seven games to win the championship.

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

After his playing career ended, he was among the founding officers of the Pirates Alumni Association and stayed active as a board member.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly, in a statement, called Friend “truly one of the very best to ever wear the Pirates black and gold.”

Friend is survived by his wife Pat, son Bob and daughter Missy.

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Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.