Jim Bunning, a baseball star who later served nearly a quarter-century in the U.S. Congress, has died at age 85 in his home state of Kentucky.
Bunning, who died Friday, had suffered a stroke in October 2016. He served six two-year terms as a congressman beginning in 1987, and was elected twice to the U.S. Senate.
Bunning pitched for 17 years, originally for the Detroit Tigers then for three other teams, and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. The only Hall of Famer ever elected to Congress, he was a staunch conservative whose outspoken style aroused some controversy during his later years in the Senate, Bunning chose not to run for re-election in 2010.
Known in baseball for his consistency — rarely missing a turn in his team’s pitching rotation, shrugging off fatigue or minor injuries — Bunning had the second-highest total of strikeouts, 2,855, when he retired as an athlete. He threw a perfect game in the National League and also had a no-hitter in the American League — an unusual distinction — and also was the second pitcher ever to win at least 100 games and amass 1,000 strikeouts in each of American baseball’s two major leagues.
Bunning’s wife, Mary Catherine, whom he married in 1952, survives him. The couple had five daughters and four sons.