Jim Bunning’s Perfect Game

When Jim Bunning pitched his perfect game for the Phillies in 1964, Sports Illustrated wrote about it, and said “It was his slider, Bunning said, that was working effectively, just as it was that day in 1958 when, as a member of the Detroit Tigers, he pitched a no-hitter against the Red Sox after four years in the American League. When [Ralph] Kiner started to express amazement that the Tigers could trade such a pitcher, Bunning interrupted with a huge grin, saying, “Very happy, very happy.” He expressed appreciation of a diving stop and a fine throw made by Second Baseman Tony Taylor that had robbed the Mets’ Jesse Gonder of a hit in the fifth inning. Then Bunning’s wife, Mary, and his eldest daughter—he has seven children—appeared from the stands to plant kisses on their man. He deserved it. After all, it was Father’s Day.”

Many years later, after Bunning had entered Congress, the Philadelphia Inquirer looked back on the game. It wrote: “Then 32-year-old Jim Bunning entered the record books – and the hearts of Phillies fans – on a steamy first afternoon of summer in spanking-new Shea Stadium.
When it was over, The Ed Sullivan Show asked Bunning to appear that evening. Bunning, a stockbroker in the off-season, knew what to ask. The answer was $1,000.

The NL’s first perfect game in the 20th century was thrown on Father’s Day by the father of seven. A bright man with an obsessive work ethic who would accept nothing less than an all-out effort from his teammates. A calm player who held his teammates together as they – not he – grew anxious in the late innings.
Bunning said he talked about the perfect game in the dugout – a violation of baseball protocol – to relieve the pressure.
“Everybody tried to get away from him,” recalled rightfielder Johnny Callison, who homered in the game. “But he was so wired that he followed us around.”

The Inquirer added: “Just 17 days before Bunning’s perfect game, the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax faced the minimum 27 Phillies, with only a walk to Richie Allen, who was later caught stealing, ruining perfection. And Koufax would be the first pitcher after Bunning to be perfect, tossing his masterpiece against the Cubs in September 1965.”


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