|"Daddy's pitching today!" |
The father of seven children, Jim Bunning on Father's Day June 21, 1964, hurled the first perfect game in regular season play in the National League since 1880. Throwing a wicked breaking slider with a low-sweeping sidearm motion in a way that his glove dusted the mound, Bunning, pitching for the Phillies, stopped the New York Mets cold at Shea Stadium, winning 6-0.
After earning a degree in economics at Xavier University in Ohio, Bunning, with a reputation for a live, natural breaking fastball, signed with the Detroit Tigers. After pitching in the minors in Richmond, Davenport, Williamsport, Buffalo and Little Rock he was called up by the Tigers in 1955 and posted a uneventful 3-5 and an 6.35 ERA.
When the young future 'Hall of Famer' realized a good fastball was not enough to get major league hitters out he developed a hard-breaking curve ball. "In the winter of 1956, I started getting a good breaking ball," Bunning recalled. "That was when I went to the Cuban Winter League and pitched for the Marianao Club and worked on throwing a slider."
A resounding mound master with pin-point control, Hall of Famer Jim Bunning relied on a live fastball, hard slider and a sweeping sidearm delivery to post a 224-184 career record. In nine seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1955-1963) Bunning collected 118 wins, and led the American League in wins in 1957 when he went 20-8, 2.69 ERA. Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964, Bunning was 19-8, a low 2.63 ERA, starting 39 games, completing 13 and hurled 5 shutouts in 284 innings, striking out 219, while walking only 46.
Bunning won 20 games once, but caulked up 19 wins four times, including three in a row in his first three years with the Phillies. He was the first major leaguer to gather 100 wins in both the AL and NL, and was the first ever to collect 1,000 career strike outs in both leagues.
Bunning was also the first to pitch in All-Star Games in both major Leagues, he pitched in a total of eight All-Star Games and allowed only a single run.
While pitching for the Tigers Bunning also threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox on July 20, 1958.
Jim Bunning's career stats: 224-184 W-L, 3.27 ERA, in 3760.3 innings, 591 G, 519 GS, 151 GC, 40 shutouts, 2855 Ks, 1000 Ws, a .242 Opp/batting/average. Baseballhistorian.com - Green Boxes
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