Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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Roy Face. 23. player. 4. . P. 1953-68

Long before relievers were earning big dollars and valuing the save, Roy Face was the man finishing games for the Pirates. His failure as a starter led to a career as an incredibly successful reliever. Thankfully it turned out this way. Face was an amazing Pirates pitcher throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Face’s first year as a near full-time reliever was in 1956 when he appeared in 68 games. It was only the beginning of his transition.

In 1958, he led the league with 20 saves. A year later, Face went 18-1 as a relief pitcher. He finished seventh in the MVP vote and earned the first of three All-Star selections.

Face led the league in saves two more times with 17 in 1961 and 28 in 1962. His Pirates career ended with 186 saves and 547 games finished. Both are records nobody has managed to beat.

The 100 wins Face managed to collect mostly as a reliever are a notable highlight of a tremendous career. Maybe more important for a list like this, his 802 games show off how long he spent in Pittsburgh. No other pitcher has stepped on a mound for the Pirates as often as him.

The Pirates haven’t had many amazing closers over the years. Usually, the good ones they do land, don’t stay. Face was different. Through the highs and lows, they could count on him to be there for the ninth inning and more.

Face meant a lot to the Pirates. Looking at his numbers and accomplishments, it’s safe to say he meant a lot to Major League Baseball as well. His talent helped shape the usefulness of relief pitchers.

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