Nine time All Star and Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher turned United States Senator Jim Bunning died May 26 in Fort Thomas, Kentucky at the age of 85 as a result of complications from a stroke suffered last year.
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As a Major League right handed pitcher Bunning won 224 games as a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates, and Los Angeles Dodgers. But even more notable is that Bunning is credited with throwing the first perfect game in the modern era MLB history and was the first pitcher since 1900 to throw a perfect game in both the American and National Leagues. He was also the first pitcher since Cy Young – the man whose name is on the trophy presented to the best pitcher in baseball each year – to have 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in both leagues.
Known as a no nonsense pitcher, Bunning was never afraid to put one in close and knocking down a batter. He left the game with a total of 2,855 strikeouts.
More than his pitching accomplishments, Bunning was fundamental in the establishment of the Major League Baseball Players Association players union.
After retiring from baseball, Bunning turned to politics where he became a member of the Fort Thomas city council, the state senate, and as a Congressional Senate and House of Representatives member from Kentucky as a Republican. He spent some 25 years in the United States Senate.
As a government representative, Bunning was tough on athletes who used steroids saying that any player caught using the performance enhancement drug should be banned from the Hall of Fame and have their records nullified. In fact, he sponsored a bill that would utilize the three strikes and you’re out format of a lifetime ban from the sport after the third infraction. The law would apply to all four of the major sports – baseball, football, basketball, and hockey.
In his farewell speech to Congress Bunning said, “I have been booed by 60,000 fans at Yankee Stadium standing alone at the pitcher’s mound, so I have never really cared if I stood alone here in Congress as long as I stood by my beliefs and my values. I have also thought that being able to throw a curveball never was a bad skill for a politician to have.”
He was born James Paul David Bunning Jr on October 23, 1931 in Southgate, Kentucky near Cincinnati, Ohio. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of Xavier University.
Bunning is survived by his wife Mary, nine children – David, Jim, Bill, Mark, Barb, oan, Cat, Bridget, and Amy; 35 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.
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