Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jim "Catfish" Hunter Had the Midas Touch

Jim "Catfish" Hunter had the Midas touch after signing a contract with the Yankees that drove baseball salaries to new heights. His performance on the field was golden as well. On May 8, 1968, Jim Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins. He won the American League Cy Young award in 1974 and overall won 224 games while helping his teams to five World Series Championships -three with Charles Finley's Oakland Athletics (1972, 1973, 1974) and two with George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees (1977 and 1978). He played nine seasons for the Athletics of Kansas City and Oakland (1965-1974). He finished out his career in Yankee pinstripes (1974-1979). He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. Charles Finley gave Hunter the nickname "Catfish" and concocted a story for the papers stating that he got it as a young boy. Those who knew Hunter outside of baseball never used the moniker. Sadly, Jim Hunter died in 1999 from ALS, the disease that took Lou Gehrig's life in 1941.
(References: Catfish: My Life in Baseball, McGraw-Hill and National Baseball Hall of Fame web site)