Trice to be inducted in HOF
WEIRTON – Robert “Bob” Trice has been accepted as a member of the Class of 2014 of the Weirton Hall of Fame in the category of sports and athletics.
Trice graduated from Dunbar High School in 1945 at age 18 and joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. He worked one day at Weirton Steel where his father was employed and then joined the Homestead Grays of the Negro National League.
Trice was a pitcher for 10 years from 1949-1958, three in the Negro Leagues from 1949-1951; three in the Majors from 1953-1955; and eight in the minors from 1951-1958. He broke into Organized Baseball in 1950 at age 24 with the Farnham Pirates in the Provincial League. His first two seasons with Farnham produced results of 5-3 and 7-12. Optioned in 1952 to St. Hyacinthe in the same Provincial League, he posted a 16-3 record with an ERA of 3.49.
The next stop was the Ottawa Athletics in the International League in 1953 where his success earned him his first shot at the parent Athletics. In the minors that year, prior to his debut in “The Show,” he was 21-10 with 57 strikeouts and 84 walks in 229 innings pitched with an ERA 3.10 and a WHIP of 1.271 in 38 games for Ottawa.
Trice was brought to Philadelphia in 1953 after winning 21 games for the Ottawa A’s of the International League. When he made his major league debut on September 13, 1953 at Connie Mack Stadium, he became the first black player in Athletics history. He appeared in three games for the A’s that season, winning two games and losing one. He lost his first start, 5-2, to Don Larsen and the St. Louis Browns, but then defeated the Washington Senators in each of his other two starts.
In 1954, Trice was also split between the same two teams; in his best year in the majors, he was 7-8 with eight complete games in 16 games started, 22 strikeouts, 48 walks and 1 shutout in 119 innings pitched with an ERA of 5.60 and a WHIP of 1.639 in 19 games. His finest major league effort came on April 24, 1954 against the New York Yankees. He pitched a 1-0 complete game shutout that day in front of a home crowd of 4,920.
In 1955 the Athletics moved to Kansas City, Mo. and he had one last try in the major leagues, but pitched poorly without a decision in only four outings where he played his final big league game on May 2 at age 28.
He returned to the minors and was not impressive at either of his other two stops that season with the Columbus Senators of the International League and Savannah in the South Atlantic League. The last three years (1956-1958) were spent with the Mexico City Red Devils in the Mexican League, and he had an aggregate 14-15 ledger, ending his baseball career at age 32.
Throughout his career, he showed some abilities with his bat, leaving a .288 MLB average behind and a pattern of good averages in even seasons (.297 in 1952, .298 in 1954 and .289 in 1956). His hitting also showed good power, with seven home runs in each of his three seasons in Mexico and four home runs in each of his two seasons with Ottawa.
Overall in the majors, he was 9-9 with nine complete games in 21 games started, 28 strikeouts, 60 walks and one shutout in 152 innings pitched with an ERA of 5.80 and a WHIP of 1.612 in 26 games. Overall in the minors, he was 72-60 with 341 strikeouts and 399 walks in 1,059 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.98 and a WHIP of 1.408 in 185 games.
Trice was honored at the third-annual induction of the West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame held in 2009. He was also featured at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center in 2013 during Black History Month.
The sixth-annual Weirton Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set to take place at 2 p.m. on May 4 at Undo’s in Weirton.
Tickets are available for $25 each at Marsh Pipe and Supply, R.E. Saxon Jeweler and the Weirton Municipal Building. Approximately 250 tickets are being sold and will not be available at the door. The event is open to the public.