Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DAHOF Top 100 -- #82 Jim "Catfish" Hunter

Catfish Hunter was a great pitcher in his time. The bigger the game, the better he pitched. First with the Oakland Athletics and then with the New York Yankees, he won 224 games, produced five straight 20-victory seasons, a perfect game and a Cy Young Award. He also a winner, with five World Series rings, appearing in 6 out of the 7 World Series played from 1972-1978.

He was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. When asked to choose which team to go into the Hall of Fame as, Hunter notably refused to choose between the Athletics and Yankees, loving both franchises equally. His plaque is one of the few with no insignia on the cap. The Athletics retired his number 27 jersey.

You only need to read a small part of his Hall of Fame speech to get a good sense of the man:

Mr. Finley said, do you have a nickname? I said, no Sir. He said, well to play baseball you have to have one. He says, what do you like to do? I said. “hunt and fish,” He said, well when you were 6 years old, you ran away from home and went fishing. By four o'clock that afternoon your mom and dad had been looking for you all day, they found you. You'd caught two catfish and was bringing in your third one. He says, now repeat it to me. So I had to repeat it to me, so I had to repeat it to everyone I met that was a friend of Mr. Finley's. But you know when you say, Jim Hunter now, nobody really recognizes that name, but when you say 'Catfish' everybody remembers it. Thank you Mr. Finley for the nickname.


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