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Jim Bibby: 1944-2010

Feb 17, 2010, 2:20 PM EDT

Jim Bibby.jpgFormer Pirates (and Rangers and Indians and Cardinals) pitcher Jim Bibby passed away last night of an undisclosed illness.  Bibby pitched in the Majors for 12 seasons, winning 111 games, striking out 1079 guys and winning a World Series ring with the 1979 Pirates. He threw a no-hitter in 1973. He came in third in the Cy Young vote in 1980. He was a usually decent and occasionally great pitcher and a guy whose baseball cards always made me smile for some reason.

He was also the subject of a classic passage from Mike Shropshire’s wonderfully misanthropic book about the mid-70s Rangers, Seasons in Hell:

Jim Bibby, who for reasons known only to himself went by the “stage name” of Fontay O’Rooney, was by no means a complete major league pitcher. But he threw a vicious fastball — “serious heat . . . severe gas” — that would scare the bejesus out of most American League batters. Parenthetically, Bibby could also lay claim to owning the biggest apparatus of manhood in baseball — an appendage of near-equine proportions — and it was to Bob Short’s eternal frustration that he could never harness that particular novelty into a gate attraction at Arlington Stadium.

65 is too young to go, and Jim Bibby will certainly be missed. But if you have to go — and we all do sometime — there are worse things to be remembered for than possessing a World Series ring, an otherworldly fastball and “the biggest apparatus of manhood in baseball.”

Godspeed, Mr. Bibby

(thanks to Jay Jaffe for the link to the book passage)

  1. Old Gator - Feb 17, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I watched Bibby pitch against both the Mets and the Borg and yeah, he did have a hellacious fastball. He didn’t scare the methane out of hitters the way some of the wildmen like Ryne Duren or, unfortunately, Steve Blass eventually did, since his control was marginally better than theirs, but you saw a lot of guys walking back to the dugout shaking their heads or looking back over their shoulders at a smiling Bibby with a look of bewilderment on their faces. Ah well, another bit of childhood – “stranger ones have been by here before they flew away,” like the song says.
    It’s a shame he didn’t convert to Islam before he died. He used to blow up in the 5th inning anyway, and imagine how happy he could have made those 72 virgins. Me, I have no use for virgins, but if the local Mullah wants to offer me 72 Vivid Girls, we can begin to negotiate.

  2. Charles Gates - Feb 17, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Pirates Rangers Indians Cardinals
    PRIC… + striking out 1079 for K
    “the biggest apparatus of manhood in baseball.”
    Okay, that’s purely coincidental…right?

  3. Old Gator - Feb 17, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    More like synchronicity, really. Meaningful coincidence and all that. See The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche
    by Jung. Hey, that’s the second time I’ve had occasion to mention him today. It’s in his Collected Works Volume 8, from Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series. 417-459. Warning, though: Jung is completely full of shit.

  4. john pileggi - Feb 17, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    In the early 1970’s, the Mets had a special knack (Amos Otis, and of course, Nolan Ryan) for sending away bright young talent. Bibby was one of those young men. He had the power stuff of a Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Ryan, McGraw and Swan, but never quite mastered the strike zone. I recall his no-hitter as one where, (I think it was Reggie Jackson) a hitter said he was throwing so hard and so wild that no one could dig in against him.
    I believe he is Henry Bibby’s brother. 65 is too young to go. Very sad.

  5. Charles Gates - Feb 17, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Gator: Are you trying to tell me that there really wasn’t some cosmic alignment forcing Gibbs to go from team to team in such a way that the first letter of each team name would spell 80% of a word, one with a certain definition that corresponds to an anatomical appendage of near-equine proportions? C’mon…

  6. dave - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    this is the most tasteless/classless obit I have ever seen.

  7. Craig Calcaterra - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    You haven’t been to many wakes then, have you? A warm remembrance of the decedent’s accomplishments followed by an off-color anecdote or two is pretty par for the course as far as these things go.
    I hope that when you shuffle off this mortal coil someone does more for you than coldly and simply recite your life’s work in AP-style.

  8. Old Gator - Feb 17, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    Au contraire, I’m just surprising you with the Good News that there’s a more elegant, scientific-sounding name for what you call “some cosmic alignment,” one with overtones of effete intellectual snobbery that can actually help one you laid when used at cocktail parties to impress vapid but pneumatic females. It was a gift, Charles. A thank-you for sticking up for me when human waves of idiots came over the hill and attempted to overrun my position on another thread or two. And it was given very much in the spirit of Bibby’s own gifts. Try it out.

  9. The Ghost of Old Gators Past - Feb 17, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    That’s quite right, Craig. In fact I’m counting on you to show up at my wake and speak eloquently to the memory of what atrocious taste I demonstrated on your blog. Yes, you will have to get at the end of a long and unruly line to do so, and most of the mourners may well have fallen asleep or crashed on their acid by the time you get to the podium, but I think I was worth it. Don’t you?

  10. Charles Gates - Feb 18, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    Boner got the metaphor wrong, even after I got him just short of all the way there. ‘Sleeping in your Mother’s basement?’ What the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks? The only way to prove my intellectual superiority would be to quote Ron White from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour: ‘Ya can’t fix stupid.’

  11. DSFC - Feb 18, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    About 20 years ago in Richmond VA my dad played in a 35 and over league, and on one of the other teams was none other than Jim Bibby. Which was inordinately cool to a 13 year old kid who thus got to brag “my dad’s playing against former big league pitcher Jim Bibby!”, which was especially cool to me as I had several of his Pirates cards….loved the ol’ pillbox hat. He didn’t pitch much (I’m guessing his arm was pretty well shot) but seemed like a nice guy who genuinely loved the game. RIP.

  12. Old Gator - Feb 18, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    Heh heh, yeah, I saw that, and of course in classic style neither he nor his odd little factotum with the late Cretaceous comic book name caught on either. Not even sophisticated enough to call himself Prince Namor – and DC characters were Republicans to Marvel characters’ Bakunins. Whaddayagunnadoo?
    However, stupid can be fixed. Ever see Charly? I grant you it was only temporary, but isn’t that better than nothing?

  13. William Capasso - Mar 2, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    maybe you would enjoy my site, i certainly enjoyed yours. – Head Shop

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