Jim Bunning, former U.S. senator, dies at 85

Posted at 12:53 PM, May 27, 2017

SOUTHGATE, Ky. -- Former U.S. senator and baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning has died, WCPO news partner Fort Thomas Matters reports.

He was 85 years old.

According to Bunning's family, he died shortly before midnight Friday. He'd suffered a stroke in October.

A visitation is planned at Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Home in Fort Thomas, on June 2 from 2 to 8 p.m. His funeral mass will be Saturday, June 3, at 10 a.m. at Catherdral Bascilica of the Assumption in Covington.

Born in Southgate in 1931, Bunning graduated from Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School in 1949 and received a bachelor's degree in economics from Xavier University in 1953.

Bunning and teammates

He played baseball professionally from 1955 to 1971, mostly with Detroit and Philadelphia. With the Phillies, he pitched a perfect game against the Mets in Shea Stadium on June 21, 1964. It was the first perfect game in the National League in the 20th century, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's website.

It also was Father's Day, and Bunning's wife and oldest daughter were there to see it.

"A perfect game is a freaky thing," Bunning told WCPO's Greg Noble in 2015, leading up to that summer's All-Star Game in Cincinnati.

RELATED: Bunning's fame started with All-Star Games

Bunning won in 224 games during his career and was an eight-time All-Star. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

In national politics, Bunning, a Republican, spent more than two decades representing Kentucky in Washington. He served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and two in the Senate, where he was considered one of the most conservative legislators.

In contrast to his stellar baseball career, TIME once listed him among America's worst senators, citing his hostile behavior toward staff and a lack of interest in policy beyond professional baseball.

Bunning decided not to run for re-election in the 2010 race, instead endorsing tea party favorite and current U.S. Sen. Rand Paul for the seat.

Mark Collier, publisher and editor of WCPO news partner Fort Thomas Matters, contributed to this report. Read his story here.