|U.S. Senator from Kentucky|
From: January 6, 1999 – January 5, 2011
|Predecessor||Wendell Hampton Ford|
|U.S. Representative from Kentucky's 4th Congressional District|
From: January 6, 1987 – January 3, 1999
|Spouse(s)||Mary Catherine Theis|
Bunning was born in Southgate, Kentucky to Gladys Best and Louis Aloysius Bunning. He graduated from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1949 and later received a bachelor's degree in economics from Xavier University. In 1952, Bunning married Mary Catherine Theis, with whom he had five daughters and four sons.
Major League Baseball career
As a youngster in Northern Kentucky, Bunning fell in love with baseball and even then he displayed a competitive spirit and a willingness to work hard. That combination carried him on to a highly successful 17-year career as a Major League Baseball player after his graduation from Xavier University with an Economics degree. Jim Bunning's first game as a major league pitcher was on July 20, 1955. He pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1955 to 1963, moving to the Philadelphia Phillies from 1964 through 1967, to the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1968 through the middle of the 1969 season, finished the 1969 season on the Los Angeles Dodgers, and returned to the Phillies in 1970, retiring in 1971. He wore uniform number 15 on the 1955 Tigers, switched to 14 in 1956, which was the number he wore for the Tigers, Phillies, and Pirates until he was traded to the Dodgers in 1969. For the Dodgers, he wore number 17, but returned to number 14 when he returned to the Phillies, who retired the number upon his election to the Hall of Fame. Bunning pitched his first no-hitter on July 20, 1958, for the Detroit Tigers against the Boston Red Sox. His second, for the Philadelphia Phillies, was a perfect game, which came against the New York Mets on June 21, 1964, Father's Day. Bunning's perfect game was the first in the National League in 84 years. He is one of only five players to throw a no-hitter in both leagues. He played in the All-Star Games in 1957, 1959, every year from 1961 through 1964, and in 1966. In 1996 he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee. Bunning has received the most votes cast by the BBWAA during the course of all players' Hall of Fame eligibility periods, collecting well over 3,000 votes.
In 1979, Bunning was elected to the Kentucky State Senate and became its Republican Leader. In 1986, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 4th District of Kentucky where he served for 12 years. He unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1983. Bunning was elected to the United States Senate in 1998. In 2004 he was reeleced by just over one percentage point, despite Republican President George W. Bush carrying Kentucky by over twenty points. Bunning has announced he would not seek reelection for the United States Senate in 2010.
Bunning was ranked by National Journal as the second-most conservative United States Senator in their March 2007 conservative/liberal rankings. He is a supporter of Operation Iraqi Freedom and terrorist surveillance. Saying that "civil liberties do not mean much when you are dead." He is also a strong critic of Illegal Immigration. "If you believe that over ten- to twelve-million people can get secure I.D. cards in their hands and have the government get them to them in time so we can check whether they're legal or illegal when they come into this country, you're smoking something that is illegal," Bunning said at a press conference in June 2007.