Who did Hall of Famer Jim Bunning play for?
The Philadelphia Phillies, right? That’s the one that always sticks out for me, seeing as how Bunning came over to the Phils from the Detroit Tigers before the 1964 season and then helped his new team to … well, to summer-long contention before a historic late collapse.
Bunning himself contributed to that freefall, losing four of five decisions from September 16 through 30.
But all that only came about after the Bunning put together a nine-year run in Motown that established him as a frontline starter and made him a must-have for Philly.
So, Bunning played for the Phillies and the Tigers.
Like those old TV commercial, though — wait, there’s more!
Find 1968 KDKA Pirates cards on eBay (affiliate link)
Find 1968 KDKA Pirates cards on Amazon (affiliate link)
Because, in December of 1967, after maybe the best two-year run of his career, the Phillies traded Bunning to the cross-state Pittsburgh Pirates for … Harold Clem, Woodie Fryman, Bill Laxton and Don Money.
It was sort of like Bunning was Herschel Walker before Herschel Walker was Herschel Walker.
Things didn’t work out all that hot in Steel City, though, which is maybe why you don’t really remember his time there. Or at least why I don’t.
After 51 starts in most of two seasons, Bunning’s Pittsburgh record stood at 14-23 with a 3.84 ERA when the Bucs traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Chuck Goggin, a minor leaguer named Ron Mitchell, and cash in August of 1969.
After nine pretty decent starts to end the season, Bunning found himself in unfamiliar territory — released!
Ah, but his old buddies, the Phillies, swooped in and signed him for, L.A. released Bunning in October. That left him looking pretty familiar to collectors when he showed up in Phils pinstripes on his 1970 Topps card.
It was a sight no one had seen since 1967.
In between, Bunning made his cardboard appearances with the Pirates, though Topps never saw fit to actually show him in a Pittsburgh uniform — no hats and hints of Phillies piping were the order of the day for his 1968 and 1969 Topps issues.
Luckily for us here in the techno whiz-bang climes of the 21st century, though, we can fall back on the foresight of a decidedly old-school institution for a glimpse of Bunning in his real Pirates togs.
That’s because local TV station KDKA released a 23-card set featuring the local diamond heroes in 1968, and Bunning made the cut on card number 14 (his uniform number).
Sure, it’s a posed studio shot and looks all kinds of weird, but it shows Bunning in the real, live black, white, and gold of the Pirates.
It’s an unforgettable memento of a forgettable two-year run in a remarkable Cooperstown-bound career.
Wow! Wax of the Day
You can occasionally find unopened goodies from 1968 on eBay and in other markets, but an unopened Topps wax pack from that summer just might cause a little financial indigestion. You could opt for something just as vintage but a bit easier on the pocketbook, like this lot …
It’s a 1968 Topps wax wrapper — cards *not* included — and it’s lovingly beat up and wrinkled. A great period piece!
Check out the full listing here (affiliate link).
1968 topps baseball cards #476 and up, HIGH NUMBERS, complete your set
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1968 Topps Baseball Cards - Singles - You Pick (Card #'s 1-250)- Free Shipping
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End Date: Sunday 04/16/2023 11:20:09 EDT
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