Wally Bunker

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Wally Bunker
Pitcher
Born: (1945-01-25) January 25, 1945 (age 69)
Seattle, Washington
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 29, 1963 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
May 26, 1971 for the Kansas City Royals
Career statistics
Win-loss record 60-52
Earned run average 3.51
Strikeouts 569
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Wallace Edward Bunker (born January 25, 1945) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. A right-hander, Bunker pitched for the Baltimore Orioles from 1963 to 1968 and Kansas City Royals from 1969 to 1971.

Biography[edit]

Bunker pitched for the Capuchino High School varsity baseball team in San Bruno, California in 1962 and 1963, as the team won the Mid-Peninsula League championships. He also played on the varsity basketball team.[1][verification needed] The Baltimore Orioles had ranked him and Dave Boswell as the two best pitching prospects in the country. Not able to afford giving each of them huge bonuses, the ballclub only signed Bunker after being disappointed by Boswell's performance in his senior year of high school.[2]

1964[edit]

As a 19-year old in 1964, Bunker won his first six starts of the season, the first of which was a 2-1 one-hitter over the Washington Senators. He became the ace of a staff that also featured Milt Pappas and Robin Roberts. Bunker finished the season 19-5 (to date, the 19 wins are an Oriole rookie single-season record) with a 2.69 earned-run average and won The Sporting News American League Rookie pitcher of the Year Award. He also received the only first-place vote not won by Tony Oliva for the Rookie of the Year honors. That year, the Orioles fell short of the American League pennant, finishing in third place; the New York Yankees won their fifth consecutive pennant, finishing one game ahead of the Chicago White Sox and two games ahead of the Orioles.

So popular had Bunker become in his rookie season that Baltimore mayor Theodore McKeldin, prior to a June 17 game at Memorial Stadium, proclaimed the mound "Baltimore's Bunker Hill"—even christening it with a handful of earth from the actual Bunker Hill. Bunker then defeated the then-first place White Sox 6-1, the victory putting the Orioles in first place. Sixteen days later, he pitched his second one-hitter of the season, defeating the Kansas City Athletics 4-0, the lone hit being Rocky Colavito's fourth-inning double.

Later Oriole Years[edit]

After Bunker's rookie season, arm ailments — most likely torn tendons or ligaments of some kind, which often went undiagnosed in Bunker's era — in subsequent seasons prevented him from enjoying a 1964 sequel. A "sore arm" (which, according to Bunker, he incurred in late September 1964, on a cold night in Cleveland) during the 1965 season reduced him to a part-time starter afterwards. He posted a 10-8 record that year and a 10-6 record in 1966. In the latter year, the Orioles won the World Series in a four-game sweep of the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game 3 of that Series, Bunker outdueled Claude Osteen with a six-hit, 1-0 shutout, which was sandwiched between shutouts by Jim Palmer and Dave McNally as the Orioles set a Series record by not allowing a run for 33 13 consecutive innings. (Moe Drabowsky pitched 6 13 scoreless innings in relief in Game One to begin the streak.) Following that triumph, Bunker was honored by the San Bruno City Council and served as honorary mayor at a council meeting.[3][verification needed]

Kansas City Royals[edit]

In 1968 the Kansas City Royals selected Bunker in the expansion draft, and he was their winningest pitcher in 1969 with a 12-11 record. On April 8 of that year, he threw the very first pitch in Kansas City Royals history. The Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in 12 innings, with Drabowsky (whom the Royals had also acquired from Baltimore in the expansion draft) gaining the victory in relief.

After the 1969 season, the arm troubles that limited Bunker to a part-time starter shortened his career. After slumping to 2-11 in 1970, he was released in May, 1971. Bunker had pitched his final major-league game at just 26 years of age.

In his career, Bunker won 60 games against 52 losses, with 569 strikeouts and a 3.51 earned-run average in 1,085⅓ innings pitched. He was also a weak hitter in those days prior to the designated hitter, with only 31 hits in 331 at-bats for a .094 batting average.

Bunker's sinker was his most effective pitch in his short career. Mickey Mantle once referred to Bunker's sinker as the type of pitch "you could break your back on." [4]

Bunker and his wife Kathy are currently Artists in Residence at Palm Key Nature Getaway in Ridgeland, South Carolina.[5][6] The Bunkers compose children's literature; two of their latest works were released in Spring 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cap 62 and Cap 63 yearbooks
  2. ^ Kelly, Jacques. "Dave Boswell, major league pitcher" (obituary), The Baltimore Sun, Wednesday, June 13, 2012.
  3. ^ San Bruno Herald October 1966
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Palm Key Nature Getaway – The Arts.
  6. ^ Klingaman, Mike. "Catching Up With...former Oriole Wally Bunker," The Toy Department (The Baltimore Sun sports blog), Tuesday, July 21, 2009.

External links[edit]