Jim Bunning, the former two-term United States Senator, and Hall of Fame pitcher for the Tigers and Phillies has passed away at age 85. His baseball career spanned 16 years. After which he reinvented himself as a politician, serving at the local, state, and federal level in his native Kentucky.
Jim Bunning’s Hall of Fame Baseball Career
From 1955-1971 Bunning pitched for the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, and the LA Dodgers. He was a 9-time All-Star and was the league strike-out leader 3 times. He pitched a no-hitter in 1958. In 1964, he pitched the seventh perfect game in Major League history on Father’s Day. Bunning’s perfect game was the first in the National League in 84 years. He also broke superstition by opening talking about the possibility of pitching perfectly while the game was going on.
Bunning wasn’t elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame until 1996 by the Veterans’ Committee. The Phillies retired his Number 14 in 2001.
Jim Bunning the Politician.
Not resting on being one of the most dominant pitchers of all time, Bunning returned to Kentucky and began a career in politics. He served on the Fort Thomas City Council, the State Senate (where he served as minority leader), the US House for 6 terms and then finally the US Senate for two tears. As a Senator, he developed one of the most conservative voting records of any sitting member. One of his signature pieces of legislation was federal flood insurance reform. He opposed Ben Bernanke’s appointment as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He also was one of two Republicans to not vote to confirm Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Beyond his policy positions, he was known for his blunt style which often led him to make controversial statements.
Bunning had spectacular life and two successful careers. He will surely go down in history as one of the more interesting athletes-turn-politicians in this nation’s history.