Face Leaves Bucs In a Blaze of Glory

Filed under Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates
September 1, 1968

There was a little dash of cloak and dagger mystery to Roy Face’s final turn with the Pirates August 31 before he was sold to the Tigers for a reported $100,000. Face finished with 795 appearances in a Pirate uniform, only seven games from Walter Johnson’s record of 802 with one team. Face made his final appearance on August 30 in a 7-3 loss to Atlanta, the sixth straight for the Bucs.

Waivers expired at midnight August 30 and the Bucs would not transfer Face to Detroit until September 1, when the Tiger roster would be clear. So after Steve Blass broke the losing streak with a 5-3 victory, the Pirates bid farewell to their fireman ace. Face went to the clubhouse, where General Manager Joe Brown was waiting to tell him of the sale to the Tigers. It was a 6 p.m. release, but it seemed everybody knew it. Players kept coming to congratulate Face and wish him well. Ushers followed. Then Face left the park early to go home, but spent almost an hour in the stands autographing.

At age 40, Face said he left with mixed feelings. “I’m sad leaving the Pirates and glad I’m going to a team in first place,” he said. “I’ve been here since 1953 and it’s tough to leave.” Face was 5-2 with an impressive 1.03 ERA with 14 saves. He opened this season with eighteen scoreless appearances stretching twenty nine innings of work. Face made 27 starts as a Pirate in 15 years, 13 of them as a rookie and his overall record with the Pirates was 99-87 with 192 saves. His most memorable achievement was winning his first 17 games in relief in 1959 before losing. He finished 18-1 that season and was The Sporting News Fireman of the Year in 1962.

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