Jim Bunning

From BR Bullpen


James Paul David Bunning

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1996

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"...he’s out there with two hitters to go and calls me out and says I should tell him a joke or something, just to give him a breather. I couldn’t think of any. I just laughed at him.” - Gus Triandos, on Jim's game plan during the final inning of his Father's Day perfect game, from The Sporting News, July 4, 1964

Bunning in the Senate

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning was the most successful pitcher since Cy Young to pitch in both the American and National Leagues; others have since surpassed him. A seven time All-Star, he was second only to the great Walter Johnson in strikeouts when he retired. After the game, he found a career in elected office, rising from local and state offices to the U.S. House of Representatives and, ultimately, the U.S. Senate. Through 2019, he is the only former Major League player to be elected to Congress.

Bunning began his big league career with the Detroit Tigers, playing nine seasons in the Motor City. He led the AL with 20 wins in 1957 and threw a no-hitter on July 20, 1958 against the Boston Red Sox. Overall, he was an All-Star five times with the Bengals and led the AL in strikeouts twice. After a subpar 1963 season, Bunning was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He turned his career around and won 19 games in three of his four seasons there, earning two more All-Star Game appearances. A workhorse, he averaged 292 innings with the Phils, twice starting 40 or more games, twice leading the NL in shutouts, fanned 219, 268, 252, and an NL leading 253, and posted excellent ERAs of 2.63, 2.60, 2.41, and 2.29. He also threw a perfect game on June 21, 1964, against the New York Mets (box score). Traded at 35 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968, he struggled with injury and later played briefly with the Los Angeles Dodgers before ending his career with two final years back with the Phillies.

In addition to throwing a no-hitter in both leagues, Bunning was the second pitcher in history to record 1,000 strikeouts and 100 wins in both the American League and the National League. In 591 career games, he struck out 2,855 batters and put together a 224-184 record with a 3.27 ERA. After his playing career, Bunning remained briefly in th game, managing the Reading Phillies (1972), Eugene Emeralds (1973), Toledo Mud Hens (1974-1975) and Oklahoma City 89ers (1976).

Bunning then returned to his home state of Kentucky and entered politics. He served on the City Council of Fort Thomas, Kentucky from 1977 to 1979 and was elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 1979. After serving there for four years, he moved on to the United States House of Representatives from 1987 to 1999. In 1999, he was elected to the United States Senate, and won re-election in 2005. In 2009, Bunning announced he would not seek a third term, claiming other Republicans were interfering with his fundraising. He suffered a stroke in October 2016 and passed away at 85 the following May.

Bunning is one of three Baseball Hall of Famers to serve in Congress, the others being executives Happy Chandler and Morgan Bulkeley.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 7-time All-Star (1957, 1959, 1961-1964 & 1966)
  • AL Wins Leader (1957)
  • 2-time League Innings Pitched Leader (1957/AL & 1967/NL)
  • 3-time League Strikeouts Leader (1959/AL, 1960/AL & 1967/NL)
  • 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (1966 & 1967)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 8 (1957, 1959, 1961, 1962 & 1964-1967)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1957)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 13 (1957-1967, 1969 & 1970)
  • 300 innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1966 & 1967)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 6 (1959, 1960 & 1964-1967)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1996

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1972 Reading Phillies Eastern League 70-69 5th/4th Philadelphia Phillies
1973 Eugene Emeralds Pacific Coast League 64-79 7th Philadelphia Phillies
1974 Toledo Mud Hens International League 70-74 5th Philadelphia Phillies
1975 Toledo Mud Hens International League 62-78 7th Philadelphia Phillies
1976 Oklahoma City 89ers American Association 72-63 3rd Philadelphia Phillies

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ralph Berger: "Jim Bunning", in Mel Marmer and Bill Nowlin, eds.: The Year of Blue Snow: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 57-63. ISBN 978-1-933599-51-9
  • Jim Bunning (as told to Allen Lewis): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, December 1972, pp. 89-91. [1]
  • Meghan Montemurro: "Hall of Fame pitcher, ex-Phillie and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning dies at 85", "Delaware Online", Wilmington News Journal, May 27, 2017. [2]
  • James Ray: "Jim Bunning’s Perfect Game: Father’s Day—Sunday June 21, 1964", in Mel Marmer and Bill Nowlin, eds.: The Year of Blue Snow: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 319-321. ISBN 978-1-933599-51-9

Related Sites[edit]