Bunning split his 17 seasons almost evenly between the major leagues, with the Tigers of the AL and the Phillies of the NL. He was a menacing right-handed sidearmer, winning 100 games, pitching a no-hitter and striking out 1,000 in both leagues; in fact, he was the first pitcher since Cy Young to win 100 and strike out 1,000 or more in each league. The 6'3" righthander's unusual pitching style, a sweeping sidearm delivery that finished with his glove hand touching the ground well in front of the mound, made him especially difficult for righthanded batters.
He posted a career record of 224 wins and 184 losses with a 3.27 ERA. As a 25-year-old, he went 20-8 with a 2.69 ERA in Detroit in 1957, but never again won 20 games. In 1963, he had his worst season as a Tiger - 12-13, 3.88 ERA, the first time that his ERA was above the league average. The Tigers traded the 31-year-old, who had won 118 games with them, and Bunning promptly won 19 games three years in a row with the Phillies.
Bunning was second all-time with 2,855 career strikeouts (behind Walter Johnson) when he retired in 1971. A dominant figure in the founding of the players' union, he also helped establish the players' pension plan.
After retiring as a player, Bunning managed in the minors for five years, then entered Kentucky politics. He was elected to the state legislature and ran unsuccessfully for governor. In 1986, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from a heavily Democratic district. He is now a U.S. senator from Kentucky.
Picture from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.
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