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Wally Bunker
Pitcher
Born: January 25, 1945 (1945-01-25) (age 64)
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, in Seattle, Washington) 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

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] While still a student at Capuchino, Bunker was recruited by the Baltimore Orioles and joined their organization after graduating from Capuchino.[2]

As a 19-year old in 1964, Bunker won his first six starts of the season and pitched a one-hit shutout in another game. He became the ace of a staff that also consisted of 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, two games behind the New York Yankees and one behind the second-place Chicago White Sox.

Impressive as his rookie season was, however, 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" 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 pitched a six-hit, 1-0 shutout (offsetting Claude Osteen's three-hit pitching), which was sandwiched in between shutouts by Jim Palmer and Dave McNally as the Orioles set a Series record by not allowing a run for 33 1/3 consecutive innings. Following that triumph, Bunker was honored by the San Bruno City Council and served as honorary mayor at a council meeting.[3]

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 another 1966 World Series pitching star, Moe Drabowsky, 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 1,085 1/3 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 are due to be released in Spring 2010.

References

  1. ^ Cap 62 and Cap 63 yearbooks
  2. ^ San Bruno Herald
  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

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