Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jim Bibby, 1944-2010. R.I.P.

Former major league pitcher Jim Bibby passed away last night. The cause of death is unknown. He was 65.

Bibby was originally signed by the New York Mets in 1965. However, nearly seven years would pass before he made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals late in the 1972 season. Bibby pitched in the big leagues for 12 seasons with the Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates before returning to the Rangers to finish his career in 1984.

Bibby was a tall, hard throwing right-hander who made people sit up and take notice when he tossed a no-hitter for the Rangers on July 30, 1973 against the defending World Series champion Oakland A's. The no-hitter took place a few weeks after the Rangers acquired him from the Cardinals. Yet Bibby often encountered control troubles even during his no-no. Although Bibby struck out 13 batters he also walked six.

The control troubles continued in 1974 for Bibby despite winning 19 games for the Rangers under the helm of Billy Martin. The problem was he also lost 19 games that season. Although he struck out 149 batters he also issued 113 walks. He would be traded midway through the following season to the Indians along with fellow pitchers Rick Waits and Jackie Brown for future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

However, Bibby is probably best known for his stint with the Pirates. He would sign with them as a free agent prior to the 1978 season and he would be a part of the "We Are Family" World Series Champion Bucs the following year winning 12 games. By this stage of his career Bibby had improved his control and would enjoy his best campaign in 1980. Bibby won 19 games and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award balloting behind Jerry Reuss and Steve Carlton.

After his major league career ended, Bibby returned to his home to Lynchburg where he would become a pitching coach for the Lynchburg Mets, Lynchburg Red Sox and the Pirate affiliated Lynchburg Hillcats. The Hillcats retired Bibby's number (an unusual honor for a pitching coach) shortly after he retired from coaching in 2002.

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