Bob Skinner was a 6'4" left fielder from La Jolla, California. Born October 3rd, 1931, the right handed giant batted from the left side. He initially signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1951. He would spend that season with the Class "D" Mayfield Clothiers of the Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League (.472 in 29 games) and the Class "B" Waco Pirates of the Big State League (.283 in 98 games). He hit a combined 15 home runs between the two levels.
Skinner's professional baseball career took a two season hiatus for a hitch in the wartime military, in support of the Korean War. He would return in 1954, finding himself on the Pirates big league roster for a full season.
In 1954, Skinner played 132 games for the Bucs, hitting .249 with eight home runs and 46 RBI. On April 22nd, he went 4-for-4 with two runs, a double and a triple in a 7-4 Pirates win over the New York Giants. May 2nd, he tattooed a home run and collected five RBI, going 3-for-6 with two runs scored in a 18-10 win over the Chicago Cubs. He played mostly first base, batting second or third in the order. He ranked fourth in the National League with nine triples. Pittsburgh posted a dreadful 53-101 record, finishing last in the NL.
1955 would see Skinner demoted to the "AA" Southern Association, with the New Orleans Pelicans. He hit .346 over 86 contests. He rejoined the Pirates in 1956, hitting .202 through 113 games between left field, right field, and first base. He usually started each game in one of the first five spots in the order, also starting a game each batting seventh and eighth. On July 3rd, he entered a contest against the Philadelphia Phillies with Pittsburgh down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. He ended the game by hitting a one out, two run bomb to left field. It's a feat he would duplicate on September 9th in the top of the 10th. Entering a 1-1 tie with the Phillies, he hit a one out, three run homer. Pirates win, 4-1. Pittsburgh finished with a 66-88 record, six games ahead of the last place Chicago Cubs.
1957 was a world better for Skinner, although the Pirates got worse, finishing seventh in the NL at 62-92. He would raise his average to .305 in 126 games as Pittsburgh's starting left fielder. He ranked second in the league with 10 assists from left field, and batted in the top half of the lineup, mostly from the cleanup position. On July 23rd, he went 4-for-7 with three runs, slugging two homers with three RBI. He had 32 multi-hit games, including seven in which he got three.
In 1958, Skinner played in 144 games, 141 in left field. He hit a career high and NL fifth best .321 with 13 home runs and 70 RBI. He appeared in his first career all-star game and finished 15th in the season ending NL MVP voting. He ranked seventh in the league with 93 runs scored, sixth in the NL with 33 doubles, and ninth in the league with 12 stolen bases. He also led the league with 18 left field assists. On July 13th, in the first game of a doubleheader, he went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI in a 10-8 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The team finished eight games behind the Milwaukee Braves, at 84-70.
1959 would see Skinner play in 143 games as Pittsburgh's left fielder batting first, third and fifth in the order. On May 31st, in the back half of a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds, he went 2-for-5 with a grand slam and a three run shot, totaling seven RBI. He hit .280 with 13 home runs and 61 RBI. Pittsburgh finished fourth in the National League, nine games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers at 78-76.
In 1960, Pittsburgh won the National League pennant by seven games over the Braves, going 95-59. Skinner made his second career all-star team, playing in a career high 145 games and hitting .273 with 15 home runs and a career high and NL ninth best 86 RBI. He ranked third in the league with 33 doubles as the Bucs everyday left fielder batting mostly third. On June 16th, he collected three hits in five at bats, including a home run and five RBI in a 10-7 Pirates win over the San Francisco Giants. He only appeared in two of Pittsburgh's seven postseason contests, going 1-for-5 with a run and one RBI. He also reached with a walk and a hit by pitch, adding a sacrifice hit as the Pirates finished off the New York Yankees.
Skinner appeared in 119 contests in 1961 in left field, batting third. He hit .268 with only three home runs and 42 RBI, scoring 61 runs and walking 51 times against 49 strikeouts. On August 5th, he went 3-for-5 with a run and three RBI in an 11-7 win over the Reds. Pittsburgh, suffering championship hangover, finished sixth in the league at 75-79.
1962 would see Skinner play 144 games and club a career high 20 home runs with 75 RBI in his usual three-spot in left field. He hit .302 and scored 87 times. On August 12th, he went 3-of-5 with two home runs and three RBI in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs. Pittsburgh finished fourth in the now 10 team National League at 93-68, eight games back of the San Francisco Giants.
In 1963, Skinner appeared in 34 games for the Pirates, hitting .270. On May 23rd, he was traded to the Reds for Jerry Lynch in the evenest trade in history ever. Both were left fielders, (Skinner 31, Lynch 32) both finished 22nd in the NL MVP vote (Skinner in 1962, Lynch in 1961), both served two seasons in the military to the detriment of their baseball careers, and both played through the 1966 season. Skinner hit .245 with six home runs and 22 RBI for the Reds over 97 games, later playing three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting .273 with seven home runs and 47 RBI.
All-Time Statline: nine seasons, 1100 games, .280/.355/.426, 1050-for-3750, 574 runs, 173 doubles, 52 triples, 90 home runs, 531 RBI, 65 stolen bases, 435 walks, 525 strikeouts, 13.3 wins above replacement.
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