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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bob Skinner, Play Whenever - Playing Days

Bob Skinner spent the night with an ice pack on his thumb and the next day in a whirlpool.

Skinner was trying to shake off the effects of a jammed thumb, one suffered in, of all circumstances, Game 1 of the World Series.

"I'll be able to play whenever Danny (Murtaugh) wants to put me in the lineup," an optimistic Skinner told The AP.

Skinner needed to be optimistic. His Pirates needed all they could get, if they had hope of beating the vaunted Yankees in the 1960 World Series.

And Skinner did return. He returned in time for Game 7, drawing a walk in the bottom of the first and scoring the Pirates' first run on a Rocky Nelson home run.

It was a classic contest the Pirates would go on to win by one run, on a more-famous run scored later in the game, one scored by Bill Mazeroski.

Skinner was in his sixth big league season in 1960, all of them played with the Pirates. He would go on to play in 12 seasons in the majors, the second part of his career seeing him join the Reds, and then the Cardinals.

His playing days done, Skinner would go on to a long post-playing career as a manager and a coach in the majors and the minors. He even spent two seasons in a major league manager's office.

Skinner's career began in 1951, signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent, out of La Jolla, Ca. Skinner started at Class D Mayfield and Class B Waco. He then served two years in the military, returning to the diamond for 1954.

He also returned from the service directly to Pittsburgh. Skinner spent all of 1954 with the Pirates, getting into 132 games and hitting .249. In April, Skinner got hits in six of his first seven games. In his seventh, he went 4 for 4, a home run short of the cycle.

Skinner spent 1955 back down at AA New Orleans, before returning to Pittsburgh for 1956. He hit just .202 for the Pirates that year, but raised that to .305 in 1957 and .321 in 1958. In 1958, Skinner also made his first of two All-Star teams.

He made his second All-Star team in 1960, the year his Pirates defeated the Yankees in the World Series. Skinner hit .273 that year with 15 home runs.

One of Skinner's 1960 home runs came in July, helping the Pirates to a win. Skinner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, an inside-the-park grand slam.

Skinner stayed with the Pirates into 1963, when he was traded to the Reds. About the trade, Skinner told The AP he believed it made sense.

"The Pirates have a young, good-looking outfielder in Willie Stargell," Skinner told The AP, "and I felt in my own mind they wanted him to play."

Skinner stayed with the Reds for a season, moving to the Cardinals in another trade. With the Cardinals, Skinner returned to the World Series. His playing time, though, was limited to four pinch-hitting appearances, getting two hits, one a double.

Skinner played two more seasons, both with the Cardinals, ending his playing career in 1966.

By 1968, he was a major league manager, with the Phillies.

For Skinner's coaching career, go to: Bob Skinner, Much Pride

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