10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jim Bunning

The Kentucky senator single-handedly held up an unemployment benefits bill

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1. James Paul David Bunning was born Oct. 23, 1931, in northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati.

2. He began playing minor-league baseball in 1950 but missed his first three spring trainings to study at Xavier University. He graduated in 1953 with an economics degree.

3. He married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Theif, and they had the first of nine children in 1952, while Bunning was still in college. One child died three days after she was born.

4. He made his major-league debut in 1955 with the Detroit Tigers. He later pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

5. Bunning threw a no-hitter in 1958, and he pitched a perfect game on Father's Day in 1964. Only 18 players in history have thrown perfect games.

6. In 1966, he helped create the Major League Baseball Players Association.

7. When he retired from baseball in 1971, he ranked second all-time in strikeouts. He was voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

8. After terms in both the Kentucky State Senate and the U.S. House, Bunning was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998. He is retiring this year.

9. His nonprofit organization funded by the sales of sports memorabilia, the Jim Bunning Foundation, has been criticized for donating only about a quarter of its income to charity.

10. After receiving public scrutiny both for blocking a bill extending unemployment benefits and for giving reporters the middle finger, Bunning withdrew his objection to the measure on Wednesday.


  • WhoRunsGov.com
  • Lexington Herald-Leader
  • baseball-almanac.com
  • Jim Bunning: Baseball and Beyond