Have you ever wanted to have one of those spiffy vintage Topps baseball cards — the ones where Topps has no idea what to d0 — of you? In other words, have ever wanted to be no-hatted?
Well, if so, you’re in luck!
All you have to do is follow the simple recipe laid out by Jim Bunning in 1967.
Ready to get started? Here we go …
The Jim Bunning Method
First, put together a stellar high school career and then sign a free agent contract with the Detroit Tigers. But don’t go right to the Majors!
Instead, enroll at Xavier University and, at the same time, work your way through Detroit’s minor league system.
Next, spend nine years in Motown and develop into one of the best pitchers in the American League … even though not many people realize your full stellarness because your teams are never very good (except 1961, but it doesn’t matter that year — see “Maris”; see “Mantle”).
Get traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1964 season, presumably because you’re getting long in the tooth at 32. Instead of buckling under to age, though, reel off 19 wins and help the Phils come within a whisper of the National League pennant.
OK, so you lose three of your last four decisions and contribute to a colossal collapse, but still — it’s a pretty good season.
Now, win 19 again in each of 1965 and 1966 while logging enough innings to choke a horse and keeping your ERA well under 3.00.
At age 35, don’t rest on your laurels, even though your laurels may be sore and stiff to start the season. Indeed, take your time getting into gear, and don’t worry too much about your up-and-down record early on.
You’re probably not getting a lot of run support, right?
As the weather warms up, though, make sure to hit your stride and start shutting down batters. You don’t want to carry that 3.00+ ERA much beyond the All-Star break, or people will begin to whisper.
Just keep going out there, throwing nine innings, and giving up a run or two. Don’t look at your record — or your team’s record — too often.
The wins will come if you pitch well.
Set yourself up so that you’re at … oh, let’s say … 14-10 as you prepare for your last August start.
Here’s where you bring it home …
On August 29, allow just one run in eight innings, but lose 1-0.
Then, on September 15, allow just one run in eight innings, but lose 1-0.
And on September 19, allow just one run in eight innings, but lose 1-0.
Finally, on September 27, allow just one run in 10-2/3 innings, but lose 1-0.
That’s what, four of those games? Oh, right. There was one in May, too.
So, tie a record with five 1-0 losses and then go ahead and lose 2-1 on October 1 for good measure.
Finish the season at 17-15, with a 2.29 ERA and lead the National League with 40 starts, six shutouts, 302 1/3 innings, and 253 strikeouts.
And, to wrap up your special year, have the Phillies trade you to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Harold Clem, Woodie Fryman, Bill Laxton and Don Money (you’ve always wanted to be a Money pitcher, after all).
Oh, and make sure the trade happens early enough (December 15) that Topps has to acknowledge your move but late enough that they don’t have time to fire up the airbrush.
Or maybe, by virtue of your being an old coot and having turned in such a pedestrian season, they just won’t care to bother.
Either way, you can now sit back and enjoy your very own no-hat Topps baseball card.