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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Jim Bibby saw military service, back issues, then made bigs

Drafted into the Army, Mets minor leaguer Jim Bibby found himself soon sent to Vietnam. Among his duties there, The Pittsburg Press wrote later, was driving a truck that carried the bodies of soldiers killed.

Bibby returned stateside unscathed and resumed his career, only to see back troubles cause him to lose more time, The Press wrote.

"I look at it this way," Bibby told The Press in spring 1980. "If It had happened differently, who knows if it had worked out so well."

Bibby went on to make the majors first at age 27 in 1972. He then saw the majors over a combined 12 seasons, became a All-Star and won a World Series with the Pirates in 1979. He then turned minor league coach.

Bibby's long career in baseball began in 1965, signed by the Mets out of Fayetteville State University.

Bibby played one season, then lost the next two to the Army. He returned for 1968 and 1989, then lost 1970 to back problems.

He returned to the field in 1971 then, in September 1972, he debuted with the Cardinals in St. Louis. He saw six starts.

Bibby moved to the Rangers mid-1973 and became a regular. In 1974, he started 41 games, going 19-19, with a 4.74 ERA.

He moved to the Indians in 1975, then the Pirates for 1978. In 1979, he went 12-4, with a 2.81 ERA. That fall, he started Games 4 and 7 of the World Series.

Bibby went 19-6 in 1980, with a 3.32 ERA and his All-Star nod. In May 1981, he threw a one-hitter, his second of his career. He told UPI afterward his focus wasn't on his performance.

"I'm excited about it, but I'm not going to jump up and click my heels together. I'd have felt the same way if we'd won, 2-1," Bibby told UPI. "It just felt good to win."

Bibby missed 1982, then returned for 1983. He last played for the Rangers in 1984, eight relief appearances to end his career.

Bibby then soon settled in Lynchburg as pitching coach and turned institution. His 1990 campaign marked his sixth season there. He went on to coach through at least 1997. The team eventually retired his number.

Bibby passed away in February 2010 at the age of 65.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,123
Made the Majors:1,365-33.1%
Never Made Majors:2,758-66.9%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:556
10+ Seasons in the Minors:336

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