Jim Bunning was an intimidating figure as a major-league pitcher and was just as hard-nosed and uncompromising as a US senator. "The main qualities it takes for professional athletes and politicians is to have a very thick hide, a thick skin, and to be able to meet and greet people," he said in 2000. Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher who parlayed his sports fame into a political career as a staunch advocate for conservative causes, has died. He was 85. Bunning's family said the ex-senator and baseball great died late Friday of complications from a stroke last October. His large family included his wife, Mary, and nine children, 35 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren. "While he was a public servant with a Hall of Fame career, his legacy to us is that of a beloved husband, caring father, and supportive grandfather," his family said in a statement.
Bunning won 224 games in a workman-like 17-year major-league career, reports the AP, mostly with the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. The big right-hander, known for his intimidating mound presence, pitched the first perfect game in modern National League history and became the first pitcher after 1900 to throw no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues. He became the first pitcher since Cy Young to record 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in both the American and National Leagues. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Saturday that Bunning "led an extraordinary life in the national pastime and in public service." Bunning's success in baseball carried over into politics, as the Kentucky Republican served stints on a city council and in the state Senate before a nearly quarter-century career in Congress. (Read more Jim Bunning stories.)