Hall of Famer Bunning passes away

Hall of Famer Bunning passes away

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning passed away on Friday, due to complications from a stroke suffered last October, the Phillies announced on Saturday. He was 85.

Born in Southgate, Ky., on Oct. 23, 1931, Bunning pitched 17 seasons (1955-71) in the Majors for the Tigers, Phillies, Pirates and Dodgers.

Pitching in 591 games, Bunning compiled a record of 224-184 and a 3.27 ERA. When he retired, his 2,855 strikeouts were second in baseball history to Walter Johnson (3,509). Bunning was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

Following his Hall of Fame career, he managed for five seasons in the Phillies' Minor League system, became a player agent and was a stock broker, as well. He began a successful political career when he was elected to city council in Fort Thomas, Ky., in 1977. His political path saw him serve as a Kentucky State Senator (1979-83), a member of the United States House of Representatives (1987-99) and the U.S. Senate (1999-2011).

A nine-time All-Star, he became the first player to pitch in the Midsummer Classic for both leagues. Bunning was the first modern-era pitcher to win 100 games in each league, the first 20th century pitcher to throw a no-hitter in each league and the second to record 1,000 strikeouts in each league. Each National League milestone came in a Phillies uniform.

A look back at Bunning's career

Bunning threw his first no-hitter on July 20, 1958, against the Red Sox while pitching for the Tigers. He also threw the NL's first perfect game since 1880 against the Mets in New York. A father of seven at the time, the perfect game occurred on Father's Day, June 21, 1964.

The Phillies acquired Bunning from Detroit along with catcher Gus Triandos for outfielder Don Demeter and pitcher Jack Hamilton on Dec. 5, 1963. During his Phillies career, Bunning was 89-73 with a 2.93 ERA, fourth-best in team history. His 23 shutouts with the club rank fifth and he struck out 1,197 in 1,520 2/3 innings. He also won 19 games three straight seasons ('64-66).

In his final game, Bunning pitched two innings of relief on Sept. 3, 1971, at Veterans Stadium against the Mets. Bunning was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1984 and had his uniform number (14) retired on April 6, 2001.

Bunning won the first game at Veterans Stadium on April 10, 1971, and returned to throw out the first pitch on the stadium's 10th anniversary; when his uniform number was retired (2001); and for the final season opener in Veterans Stadium history (2003). He also threw out the first pitch for World Series Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park in 2009; and on the 50th anniversary of his perfect game in 2014. He participated annually in the Phillies Wall of Fame Weekend.

Following his graduation from high school in 1949, Bunning attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, on a basketball scholarship. Signed by the Tigers for $4,000, he made his pro debut in 1950 with Tigers' affiliate in Richmond, Ind. He spent seven seasons in the Minors. Eventually, he received a bachelor's degree in economics from Xavier. He used his signing bonus to buy an engagement ring for Mary Theis, his childhood sweetheart.

Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.