Jim "Catfish" Hunter - Earned The Cy Young Award
Earned the Cy Young Award
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.
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.
- Jim "Catfish" Hunter - Chronology
- Jim "Catfish" Hunter - Signed With The Kansas City A's
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