Owen Friend was born on March 21, 1927, in Granite City, Illinois. Owen attended the Webster School and Granite City High School. He played two years of amateur baseball and three years of semipro ball. Had he not been signed to play professionally, he would have become an electrician. Most of the time, he was a second baseman. 

A St. Louis Browns scout had seen him playing Pony League ball and invited him, at age 15, to a workout at Sportsman’s Park. Signed at 16, he spent the rest of 1943 working out with the Browns, but his first professional assignment was in 1944 with the Newark (Ohio) Moundsmen in the Class-D Ohio State League. He hit for a .281 batting average, led the league’s second basemen in putouts and assists, and was named to the league’s All-Star team. Newark won both the playoffs and the finals. 

For the most part, he matched that in 1945, again batting .281, this time for the Class-C Raleigh Capitals (Carolina League). He also appeared in eight games in High-A baseball for the Southern Association’s Memphis Chicks. In that limited time, he hit .345.

His 1946 season was spent in New York, playing A-level ball with the Eastern League’s Elmira Pioneers. In 1947, he played for two teams. With a Toledo contract, he went to spring training with the Browns, then was sent to Double-A San Antonio. At the start of June, he was sent to Springfield, Illinois, to play for the Class-B Springfield Browns in the Three-I League. 

Despite having several years of baseball under his belt, he was still only 20 years old when he began the 1948 season. He played in the Class-A Central League for the Muskegon (Michigan) Clippers, on loan to the White Sox farm club. The Muskegon ballpark size may well have been a factor in his hitting 21 home runs, the most of his career.

During the offseason, he worked at the Free Sewing Machine Company in Rockford, Illinois, and played for the company’s semipro team.

In 1949 he got his first taste of the majors – in two games. First he got in a full season of work with Elmira again and then he was called up to St. Louis and enjoyed his major-league debut in October, playing in both games of a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park. 

The year 1950 was Owen’s big year. The Browns had sold Bob Dillinger and Gerry Priddy, so they needed infielders. Owen traveled to Burbank, California, for spring training with the Browns and became the team’s starting second baseman. He hit .237 with a .312 on-base percentage, homered eight times and drove in 50 runs. 

He was called to military service during the Korean War, and was inducted into the Army at Fort Sam Houston in mid-December 1950. He missed the entire 1951 and 1952 seasons, while serving in the Medical Corps.He was able to play some baseball in the Army and helped contest for the semipro championship of Texas, playing with the Brooke Army Medical Center team.

Though still in the service, he was traded in December to the Detroit Tigers, a day or two before he was discharged. Owen made the team in spring training, hitting a number of home runs, including two on one day and a grand slam on another day. He started the season playing all but one of the games in April, but was only batting .157 at month’s end. When it declined to .177, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in June, as part of an eight-player trade.

In 1954 he was cut near the end of March and was back playing minor-league ball, spending the full season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Indianapolis won the American Association pennant and Owen was named to the league All-Star team as utility infielder.

In October, the Boston Red Sox purchased his contract from Indianapolis.  In 1955 thee Red Sox had also added Billy Klaus from Minneapolis and it was Klaus who stuck, securing a spot at shortstop, while Grady Hatton became the Red Sox second baseman. Owen only appeared in 14 games at short, hitting .262 in the limited time but also committing three errors. His last game for Boston was in May and was sent to Louisville, getting into 24 games, batting just .190. In June, the Red Sox sold his contract to the Chicago Cubs.

He stuck with the Cubs the rest of the season, but was used only sparingly. He played in two games for the 1956 Cubs and in May, the Cubs optioned him to Havana. He spent a few more years in minor-league ball. In 1957 and 1958, he played for the Vancouver Mounties in the Pacific Coast League. In 1959 he appeared in two games for Double-A Dallas, where he was meant to be a player/coach, but was sold to Phoenix in April. 

Owen began a career as a manager in 1960, in the State of Washington for the Class-B Wenatchee Chiefs. In 1964 he put on a glove for the last time as a player while managing the Rocky Mount Senators in the Class-A Carolina League. 

He managed from 1960 through 1975, with a couple of years off, such as in 1969, when he returned to the majors for a year as bench coach for the Kansas City Royals, in charge of the expansion team’s infielders. He worked as a scout for the Orioles in 1968.

After retiring from baseball, Owen Friend lived in Wichita where he died on October 14, 2007, at age 80.