Jim Bunning, now a Republican senator from Kentucky, once pitched a perfect game against the New York Mets when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.
He also spent nine seasons pitching for the Detroit Tigers. In fact, he was scheduled to sign baseballs on Sunday in Taylor, Mich. At $35 a pop.
It seems a bit unseemly for a United States senator to be selling his autograph, baseball great or not. But that's not the point of this post.
Bunning opposes the government bailout of the U.S. auto industry and voted against the House-passed bill last night, causing the deal to fall apart. Whatever you think of that position, it does have deep implications for Michigan and those whose livelihoods depend on the health of the industry. Nonetheless, Bunning was scheduled to come to the city of Taylor the "deepest part of UAW country," according to the Detroit Free Press to sell his autograph.
Bunning has gotten a rough shake from the press in recent years. Time magazine once listed him as one of the Senate's five least effective members. Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson notes that when Bunning barely won re-election in 2004 (while President Bush had an easy go of it in Kentucky), it was because "many Kentuckians suspected his elevator no longer went all the way to the top."
Well, Mr. Bunning will not be signing balls on Sunday. Jim Koester, the president of the Gibraltar Trade Center in Taylor, canceled the appearance altogether, having read about the senator's position on the bailout in the Free Press. Said Koester, "I simply cannot support anyone who, in my opinion, votes against the economic well-being of our great state."
Bunning is 13th on the all-time list of pitchers who hit batters. Looks like he got, if nothing else, a bit of a brushback himself.