Jim Bunning’s Clutch Performances

March 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

In early December of 1963, the Philadelphia Phillies made one of the great trades of all time. 

They sent outfielder Don Demeter, a Dodgers reject, along with pitcher Jack Hamilton, who is remembered for throwing the pitch that ruined Tony Conigliaro’s career, to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for pitcher Jim Bunning and catcher Gus Triandos.


Two Masterpieces

Jim Bunning won 19 games each of his first three seasons with the Phillies, but in 1964, Jim pitched two masterpieces.  

It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon at the Mets‘ new ballpark on Jun. 21st. It was also Father’s Day. 

The first-place Philadelphia Phillies were at Shea Stadium to meet the Mets in a doubleheader. The Phillies were starting Bunning in the first game against the pitcher who gave up Roger Maris’ 61st home run, Tracy Stallard.


Close Calls

In the Mets’ third, Amado Samuel hit a line drive over shortstop Cookie Rojas’ head, but the future Mets coach leaped to snare the line drive.

In the fourth, Ron Hunt, whom the Mets announcers had compared favorably to Pete Rose when both were rookies in 1963, hit a pop fly down the right field line, clearly out of the reach of right fielder Johnny Callison, who was shading Hunt toward right center field. 

The ball fell harmlessly about a foot foul.

Bunning had retired the first 13 Mets when, with one out in the fifth inning, Jesse Gonder hit a hard shot on the ground between second baseman Tony Taylor and first baseman John Herrnstein. 

Taylor knocked the ball down with a diving stop to his left, reached down, grabbed the ball, and fired to Herrnstein to throw out Gonder.

John Stephenson stuck out to end the game. 

Jim Bunning became the first National League pitcher in the modern era (1901) to pitch a perfect game. He also became the first pitcher to hurl a no-hitter in each league. On July 20, 1958, Jim had no-hit the hard-hitting Boston Red Sox.


A Must-Win Shutout

The Phillies were in a heated pennant race late in September. On the last day of the season, they trailed the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals by a single game. 

Manager Gene Mauch sent his ace Jim Bunning to face the Reds. If the Phillies won and the Mets, who had already beaten the Cardinals on Friday and Saturday, could beat St. Louis again, there would be a three-way tie for the pennant.

Bunning did his job. He hurled a masterful six-hit shutout to pull the Phillies even with the Reds, but in St. Louis, the gritty, gutsy Mets just couldn’t do it. 

Curt Simmons started for the Cards against Galen Cisco. 

The Mets were trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning when they scored two runs on a single by George Altman, a Cisco sacrifice, and consecutive doubles by Billy Klaus and Roy McMillan. 

The Cardinals were desperate. Johnny Keane brought in Bob Gibson, who had worked eight innings in a losing effort in the first game of the series.

Today, it would be, as Red Barber used to say, as rare as a hen’s tooth to bring in a starting pitcher who worked eight innings after only one day off, but the pennant was on the line, and the pitcher was Bob Gibson. 

The Mets did get to Gibson for a pair of runs in his four innings of work, but the Cardinals pounded Cisco and those who followed for an 11-5 win.

Jim Bunning did all he could do for his team. 

He was 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA and a 132 ERA+. He pitched a perfect game, struck out 219 batters during the season, and pitched a shutout on the final day of the season when his team couldn’t afford to lose.

Bunning went on to record at least 200 strikeouts in 1965, and 1966, and led the league with 253 strikeouts in 1967. In 1996, then-Representative and future Senator Jim Bunning was elected to the Hall of Fame.


1964 Philadelphia Phillies

By GORDON S. WHITE Jr. (1964, June 22). Bunning Pitches a Perfect Game; Mets Are Perfect Victims, 6 to 0: Bunning Hurls Perfect Game Against Mets as Phils Take Twin Bill Here PITCHER FANS 10 IN A 6-0 TRIUMPH Perfect Game Is First Since 1880 in League — Mets Lose 2d Game, 8-2. New York Times (1923-Current file), 1. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2006). (Document ID: 106979528).

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