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Fifty Years Ago, Jim Bunning’s Perfect Game at Shea Stadium (Video)

(CQ Roll Call Archives)
(CQ Roll Call Archives)

It was Father’s Day 50 years ago that former Sen. Jim Bunning made history, pitching a perfect game at Shea Stadium.  

The Kentucky Republican’s hall of fame career featured no shortage of milestones, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn’t let the anniversary go by without a tribute to his former colleague — a man with whom he at times famously disagreed.  

“The date was June 21, and in front of his wife Mary, his eldest daughter Barbara, and more than 32,000 cheering fans, Jim Bunning delivered the perfect Father’s Day gift by pitching a perfect game,” McConnell said of the game day in New York.  

McConnell went on to explain the significance and rarity of the perfect game in the major leagues for any baseball neophytes watching the floor of the Senate, before discussing the manner with which Bunning, pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, vanquished the Mets. As The Morning Call noted, there had not been a perfect game thrown in the National League since 1880.  

“With a combination of fastballs, curveballs, and sliders, Jim began to make short work of the Mets’ batting order. By the sixth inning, he began to consider that he was on the cusp of history,” said McConnell. “For baseball fans, the statistics on Jim’s perfect game are truly numbers to behold. He threw only 90 pitches in the Phillies’ six-to-zero victory — an average of only 10 per inning. He struck out 10. He did not miss the strike zone more than four times in any inning. And he went to a three-ball count on only two batters.”  

Bunning, for his part, discussed the perfect game with The Morning Call’s Phillies Files blog.  

“The Mets lineup … didn’t have good hitters at the time — there were only two or three,” Bunning recalled.  

Perhaps that batting order contributed to the box score for what McConnell said “may be the most perfect of perfect games ever pitched.”

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