Nineteen sixty-four was our last Father's Day in Cuba, but no one remembers much about that. We were just lucky that our father was out of a political prison. Many of our friends were not so lucky.
I did not hear the following story until years later, and I fell in love with it immediately.
This is a great Father's Day story to share with your father or sons. We lost our father seven years ago, and my sons will confirm that I've recounted this baseball tale a few times.
Before he became Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, he was a good Major League pitcher, winning 224 games, a stellar 3.27 career ERA, 3,433 strikeouts, and election to the Hall of Fame in 1996. Bunning was a reliable right-handed pitcher, as his Hall of Fame page reminds us: "When Bunning retired, he was second on the all-time strikeouts list to Walter Johnson with 2,855."
Well, Senator Bunning can blame Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton, and Randy Johnson for that! Bunning is now #20 on the list, not a bad place at all, considering the names of the first 19.
We remember Bunning for something that happened one Sunday afternoon many years ago.
On Father's Day 1964, Jim Bunning of the Phillies threw a perfect game against the Mets in the old Shea Stadium in New York. There were 32,000 fans, and the temperature was in the 90s and very humid. They called it "summer in the city" back then, not climate change.
It was important because Bunning knew something about pitching and fatherhood. He and Mrs. Bunning had nine kids and eventually 35 grandchildren.
Not every dad pitches a perfect game on Father's Day. Most of them work to provide us a stable life and often take us to a ball game.
Happy Father's Day, and remember that fathers matter a lot.