Phillies great Jim Bunning passed away late Friday night, after facing declining health since suffering a stroke in October. Bunning was 85.
In his playing days, Bunning was best known for throwing a Father's Day perfect game on June 21, 1964 against the New York Mets. In sweltering heat, Bunning needed just 87 pitches in pitching the Phillies to a 6-0 win over New York in the first game of a double-header.
During an appearance in Reading a few years ago, Bunning's wife, Mary, recounted the story of how the day played out. "Barbara [Bunning's daughter] and I were going to watch Jim pitch in the first game and then go to the World's Fair," remembered Bunning's wife of 65 years. "There was so much going on and Jim was getting phone calls from all over, so we decided to stay for the second game instead of going to the Fair."
Bunning's major league debut came on July 20, 1955 as a member of the Detroit Tigers, against the Baltimore Orioles. Bunning spent nine seasons with the Tigers before he was dealt to the Phillies on December 5, 1963. The deal sent Bunning and Gus Triandos to the Phillies in exchange for Don Demeter and Jack Hamilton. Four years after acquiring him, the Phillies traded him to Pittsburgh and less than two years later, he was dealt to the Dodgers. After being released by the Dodgers following the 1969 season, Bunning re-signed with the Phillies and pitched two more seasons in Philadelphia. After he retired, Bunning managed in the Phillies minor league organization. Bunning, who won 224 games and finished his career with a 3.27 ERA, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. Bunning was a seven-time all-star and finished second in the Cy Young voting in 1967.
After his playing career, Bunning entered the business world and then the world of politics, first being elected to the City Council in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. After that, it was a seat in the Kentucky Senate and a failed bid for the Governor's office in 1983. Three years later, Bunning ran for the United States House of Representatives and would go on to serve six terms in the House before running for the Senate in 1998, where he served two terms. During his second term, in the midst of a battle with his own party, Bunning announced that he was retiring from politics at the end of his term in 2010.