Today is the 45th anniversary of Jim Bunning's perfect game with the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the second no-hitter of his career.
He is one of five pitchers to throw a no-hitter in both leagues; he threw his first with the Detroit Tigers in 1958.
His perfect game was the the first no-hitter in the National League in 84 years, and was the seventh perfect game in baseball history and the third in National League history. (Seventeen pitchers have thrown a perfect game.)
Both of his no-hitters came in the first game of a double header.
Oh, by the way Gus Triandos, who caught Bunning's perfect game, became the first player to catch a no-hitter in both leagues.
That's a lot of accomplishments for only one game.
Bunning's perfect game came on June 21, 1964 against the New York Mets. He was in his first season as a Phillie and was enjoying early season success. He had come from the Tigers, with whom he had made five All-Star teams.
On August 2, 1959, Bunning struck out three batters on nine pitches. He is one of ten players to accomplish this feat.
By the time he retired, Bunning had made seven All-Star teams and ranked second on the all-time strikeout list, behind only Walter Johnson. (He now ranks 17th.)
On June 21, 1964, the Phillies had a double header against the Mets at Shea Stadium. The Phillies were leading the division while the Mets were in tenth place.
Philadelphia quickly scored a run in the first inning and tagged on another in the second.
Meanwhile, Jim Bunning was pitching masterfully. Through five innings, he hadn't allowed a base runner and struck out four.
In the top of the sixth, Johnny Callison led off with a home run, giving the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Then, with men on first and second and two outs, Gus Triandos knocked in a run with a single. Bunning stepped up and helped his own cause by knocking in two runs with a double.
Bunning retired the Mets easily over the next three innings, while striking out four.
With only three outs to go in the bottom of the ninth, Bunning got Charley Smith to foul out. He then struck out George Altman for the second out.
Finally, for the perfect game, he struck out John Stevenson for his tenth strikeout of the day.
(The Phillies took the momentum of the game into the second game.)
Jim Bunning was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. He finished his career with a 224-184 record, a 3.27 ERA, and 2855 strikeouts.
Bunning is currently a Kentucky senator.
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