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Jim "Catfish" Hunter - Earned The Cy Young Award

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For Hunter, 1974 was a dream year. He led the league in complete games (23), and ERA (2.49), had the most wins (25), and most shutouts (6). For his efforts, he won the Cy Young Award.

During the 1974 season, Hunter got embroiled in a contract dispute with the A's, and his contract was terminated. As a free agent, Hunter was courted by nearly every team in baseball. In the end, he signed a deal worth about $3.75 million with the New York Yankees. With the A's, Hunter had made about $100,000 a year. Thus, Hunter became baseball's first multi-million-dollar player.

Chronology

1946 Born April 8 in Hertford, North Carolina, to Abbott and Lillie Harrell Hunter
1960s Becomes star of Perquiman High baseball team
1963 Injures foot in hunting accident
1964 Signs with Kansas City A's
1965 On May 13, pitches two innings in his major league baseball debut
1966 Marries high school sweetheart, Helen, on October 9
1968 On May 8, pitches a perfect game to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-0
1971 Compiles a 21-11 season to help the A's win the Western Division title
1972 Plays in first World Series, comes away a winner
1973 Helps team win the World Series
1974 Helps team win the World Series
1974 Wins contract dispute, becomes free agent, and signs a $3.75 million deal with New York Yankees, making him baseball's first multi-millionaire player
1975 Makes his debut in pinstripes as a New York Yankee
1976 Plays in fourth World Series, though team loses
1977 Has trouble with sore arm; plays and wins fifth World Series
1978 Spends most of season on the disabled list; makes comeback for the World Series, winning game six, the deciding game
1978 Diagnosed with diabetes
1979 Retires from baseball after 15 years
1979 Returns to Hertford, North Carolina
1987 Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
1988 Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS
1999 Dies on September 9 of complications due to ALS

Awards and Accomplishments

1966 Selected for first All-Star Team
1967 Selected for All-Star Team
1970 Selected for All-Star Team
1972 Selected for All-Star Team
1972 Won first World Series ring
1973 Selected for All-Star Team
1973 Won second World Series ring
1974 Selected for All-Star Team
1974 Won third World Series ring
1974 Won the Cy Young Award
1974 Named The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year
1975 Pitched his fifth consecutive season with 20 or more wins
1975 Selected for All-Star Team
1976 Selected for All-Star Team
1987 Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

In 1975, Hunter finished the season with 23 wins, giving him five seasons in a row with more than 20 wins. He was the third American League pitcher to accomplish that feat. In 1977, Hunter made his fifth World Series appearance. The Yankees had played in the 1976 series but lost. With Hunter's pitching help, the Yankees won the 1977 series.

By the start of the 1978 season, Hunter's arm was constantly in pain. Not surprising, considering he'd pitched more than 3,000 innings in 13 years. Hunter spent most of the season on the disabled list, though he went 6-0 in August. Next came the World Series. When called to pitch in the sixth game of the series, Hunter came through, delivering a win that decided the title.

At the end of the 1979 season, the 33-year-old pitcher retired. Hunter returned to his hometown of Hertford where he raised hunting dogs and appeared in spots for Dodge trucks, Red Man Chewing Tobacco, and Purina Dog Food. In 1987, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A year later, Hunter was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative disease of the nerve cells that control movement. The disease is most often called Lou Gehrig's disease, for the famed Yankee who died of it. Hunter succumbed to ALS on September 9, 1999, leaving behind his wife, Helen, and three children, Kim, Todd, and Paul.

While Hunter's feats on the mound have earned him a place in baseball history, he will also be remembered for what he did off the mound. Hunter was an ace pitcher, to be sure, but he was also an ace of a human being, whose down-home farm boy personality endeared him to the hearts of many. Years after his retirement, he remained a household name. After being diagnosed with ALS, Hunter struck back and founded the Jim "Catfish" Hunter ALS Foundation hoping to use his name as a baseball Hall of Famer to raise awareness about the disease and raise funds for research and for ALS patients. In this way, Hunter hoped to "strike out" the disease, just as he did so many batters. Even after he'd lost control of most of his body, Hunter continued in the fight to raise funds for his cause. His widow continues today. Though Hunter is gone, his foundation and his feats on the mound live on.

Career Statistics

Yr Team W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R BB SO
KC: Kansas City A's; NYY: New York Yankees; Oak: Oakland A's.
1965 KC 8 8 4.26 20 3 2 133 124 63 46 82
1966 KC 9 11 4.02 25 4 0 176.7 158 79 64 103
1967 KC 13 17 2.81 35 13 5 259.7 209 81 84 196
1968 Oak 13 13 3.35 34 11 2 234 210 87 69 172
1969 Oak 12 15 3.35 35 10 3 247 210 92 85 150
1970 Oak 18 14 3.81 40 9 1 262.3 253 111 74 178
1971 Oak 21 11 2.96 37 16 4 273.7 225 90 80 181
1972 Oak 21 7 2.04 37 16 5 295.3 200 67 70 191
1973 Oak 21 5 3.34 36 11 3 256.3 222 95 69 124
1974 Oak 25 12 2.49 41 23 6 318.3 268 88 46 143
1975 NYY 23 14 2.58 39 30 7 328 248 94 83 177
1976 NYY 17 15 3.53 36 21 2 298.7 268 117 68 173
1977 NYY 9 9 4.72 22 8 1 143.3 137 75 47 52
1978 NYY 12 6 3.58 20 5 1 118 98 47 35 56
1979 NYY 2 9 5.31 19 1 0 105 128 62 34 34
TOTAL 224 166 3.26 476 181 42 3449.3 2958 1248 954 2012
Jim "Catfish" Hunter - Chronology [next] [back] Jim "Catfish" Hunter - Signed With The Kansas City A's

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