As usual for the '60 set, the main color mug shot is a bit dull but definitely provides a sharp close-up of Senator Bunning as a Tiger, the team with who he enjoyed much of his success. I always love the vintage team logos and the Tiger in the lower left hand corner is no exception!
Jim Bunning was a solid pitcher who finished his career with 224 wins, 2,855 K's and a 3.27 ERA. He made his debut with the Tigers in 1955 on July 20 and exactly three years later would fire his first no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway on 7/20/1958. You gotta love that! He was only two walks (both against Boston leadoff man, Gene Stephens) away from a perfect game but he would have a date with perfection at a later date. Ted Williams was 0-4 in the game but did not have a strikeout......this no-hitter is mentioned on the back of his 1960 card:
|Bunning is saying "A Boston Tea Party!" in the comic...which is awesome.|
Senator Bunning was a key component of Detroit's staff and his contributions were featured on this other card in my collection from the Topps release in 1963:
|Twirlers? Thesaurus FAIL, Topps.|
|Color scheme was great to re-visit through last year's Heritage release!|
Bunning was traded to the Phillies with Gus Triandos for Don Demeter and Jack Hamilton in December of '63......um, yeah. At that point, Jim was a five-time All-Star (add the additional two for years '61 and '62!), had led the league in Wins (once) and Strikeouts (twice). Not sure what spawned this trade idea......I'll have to do some more research into those guys, but none of the names really stick out to me. Let's get on with it -
What better way to endear yourself to your new team than by hurling a perfect gem! Senator Bunning did JUST that on June 21st in 1964 (Father's Day, wouldn't you know - and at the time, he was a father of 7 of his eventual 9 kids!) against the young Metropolitans of New York who were in their third season under Casey Stengel. Jim helped his own cause that day by doubling in two runs with two outs in the 6th inning! Even the Mets fans were cheering on Bunning's perfect quest by the end of the game. He reached a "3-ball" count only two times throughout all nine frames. Good stuff!
The 1964 season became a very infamous one for the Phillies organization and their fans. The Phils led the National League for most of the season but fell apart in the final days. Many critics cite Manager Gene Mauch's overuse of both Bunning and fellow ace, Chris Short. Looking back at Jim's numbers that season, I can believe it. Bunning appeared in 41 games, starting in 39. He pitched 284 innings (though he would top that with 291, 314 and 302 IP the following three seasons!) and recorded 13 complete games. Yowza. The Phils blew a September 21st six and a half game lead, losing their final 10 games to finish in second place behind the Cardinals. The Cards eventually bested my Yankees in the World Series, four games to three, and would go on to win two of the next four Series titles. The Phillies wouldn't make an appearance in the post season until the Schmidt era in 1976. A cool factoid? Tim McCarver played for the Cardinals in 1964.....and then for the Phillies in 1976. Timing is truly everything.
Bunning would also pitch for the Pirates and Dodgers before retiring as a Phillie in 1971. They later retired his jersey (#14) in 2001 after he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996. Being a Hall of Famer, Senator Bunning was on my list of TTM missions a few years ago, and I was very fortunate to receive a generous response from his office in his home state of Kentucky. The Senator signed a baseball with his HOF-induction inscription for me in ball-point on the sweet spot. He was also kind enough to take the time to sign my traditional "Autograph Card" in a really nice looking, bright blue sharpie.
Thanks a lot, Senator Bunning!
Here are some more great statistics regarding Bunning - some pretty cool names mentioned here, so I couldn't resist!
- Bunning's perfect game in 1964 was the first regular-season perfect game in baseball since 1922 (Charlie Robertson, White Sox)
- Bunning's perfect game was the FIRST in the National League in 84 years
- on 8/2/1959, Bunning became the 10th pitcher in MLB history to record the 9-pitch-3-strikeout inning (versus the....WAIT for it.....Red Sox!)
- Bunning retired with 2,855 strikeouts, which at the time placed him SECOND on the all-time list behind Walter Johnson. Senator Bunning is now 17th on the all-time strikeout list.
- Bunning is one of only five players to throw no-hitters in both leagues, joining Nolan Ryan, Cy Young, Randy Johnson and Hideo Nomo
Thanks for reading!