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Jim Bunning Exhibit Opens at Behringer-Crawford Museum

A new display honoring the late Senator and Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member is open at the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington.

Bunning's baseball career as a pitcher included a perfect game as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964, which was his second no-hitter (a perfect game means there were no walks pitched, while a no-hitter may include some opposing players reaching a base by walks).

Bunning finished his pro-sports career and entered politics, first as a city council member in Fort Thomas, then the Kentucky State Senate where the Republican served as Minority Leader. He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1983, but in 1986 was elected to Congress representing Northern Kentucky. 

In 1998, Bunning elevated to the U.S. Senate where he served two terms, retiring in 2010.

Behringer-Crawford Museum’s From the Mound to the Hill exhibit, a pictorial history of the baseball life of the Southgate native, is on display now through August.

Rex Morgan, a life-long friend of Bunning, donated the material to the museum.

“Jim Bunning was truly a local hero,” said Jason French, curator of exhibits at Behringer-Crawford Museum. “When we were given the opportunity to display such an extensive collection of Bunning memorabilia, it was less of a question of 'if' than 'when.' We felt that the summer of his 90th year would be a great way to honor his memory.”

Bunning, who died in 2017 at age 85, was the sole Major League Baseball athlete to be elected to both the United States Senate and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He pitched from 1955 to 1971 for the Tigers, Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers.

When he retired, he had the second-highest total career strikeouts in major league history. He currently ranks 19th.

A graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati in 1949, Bunning received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Xavier University in 1953.

 He was elected to the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Wall of Fame in 1984, and in 1996, to the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee. In 2001, his uniform number, 14, was retired by the Phillies. 

“When we were approached about being a permanent home to a massive Jim Bunning memorabilia collection, there was little chance that we were going to turn it down,” French said. “Jim was such an icon and local legend. He did so much for our community and was always there for Behringer-Crawford Museum, too. Housing his collection is quite natural for us and exemplifies our partnership with the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.”

Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame members will be admitted to BCM free on Saturday, June 19 to view the Mound to the Hill Jim Bunning display, as well as adjunct displays featuring the Negro, Cuban and Mexican leagues.

Admission to the museum: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (over 60), $5 for children (3-17 years old) and free for children under 3. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday ,10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

-Staff report