Saturday, April 07, 2001

Bunning's number retired in Philly

Senator makes dash from D.C. to attend pregame ceremony

The Associated Press

        PHILADELPHIA — Jim Bunning told his fellow senators to wait. He had more important things to do Friday.

        Mr. Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher and now a Republican U.S. senator from Kentucky, had his No. 14 jersey retired by the Philadelphia Phillies before the team's home opener Friday.

        After the pregame ceremony, he scurried to return to Washington to vote for the 2002 budget plan.

[photo] Jim Bunning stands with his wife, Mary, as the senator from Kentucky and Hall of Fame pitcher's number is retired during ceremonies in Philadelphia on Friday.
(Chris Gardner photo)
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        “I told Trent Lott (the Senate Majority Leader) there's a budget every year,” Mr. Bunning said. “I get my number retired once in a lifetime.”

        Mr. Bunning won 224 games and lost 184 in 17 years in the majors. He pitched for Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

        The right-hander was the second pitcher in history (after Cy Young) to achieve 1,000 strikeouts and 100 wins in both the National and American leagues. From 1955 to 1971, Mr. Bunning led the majors in victories, innings pitched and strikeouts.

        After ending his playing career, Mr. Bunning managed in the Phillies minor league system for five years.

        While with the Phillies, Mr. Bunning pitched a perfect game against the Mets in 1964 and became the first to pitch in All-Star Games for both leagues. He's one of four pitchers to throw a no-hitter in both leagues.

        Mr. Bunning won the first game at Veterans Stadium 30 years ago. His jersey number is the fifth to be retired by the Phillies, joining those of Richie Ashburn (1), Robin Roberts (36), Steve Carlton (32) and Mike Schmidt (20).

        Among other Phillies who wore No. 14 were Pete Rose and Del Ennis. Mr. Ennis ranks third on the Phillies career list in RBIs (1,124) and second in home runs (259). Mr. Rose helped lead the Phillies to the franchise's only World Series championship in 1980.

        “I think if Pete's number is retired, it should be in Cincinnati,” Mr. Bunning said. “Any time they want to put Ennis' name up there with me, it's fine with me.”

        Mr. Bunning was joined by his family, including all nine of his children and 19 of his 35 grandchildren. He threw out the first pitch to Mr. Roberts.

        “I never thought this would happen,” Mr. Bunning said. “It's special in that it's the end of a baseball career. What else could you get done? I'm in the Hall of Fame. My number is retired. The next thing to do is die. We'll hold off on that for a while, especially since there is a tie in the Senate.”

        Before the game, the Phillies also honored pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander and outfielder Chuck Klein by displaying the block-like “P” that was worn on Phillies uniforms early in the 1900s.

        Mr. Alexander played for the Phillies from 1911 to 1917 and again in 1930; he died in 1950. Mr. Klein played for the Phillies for 12 years; he died in 1958.


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