Bunning Talks Politics, Baseball During Appearance in Bowling Green

Jun 18, 2014

Former Kentucky Senator and Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning signs autographs Wednesday in Bowling Green
Credit Emil Moffatt

Former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning says there’s a good chance the man who took his place in the Senate will run for president in two years.  Bunning says Rand Paul has done a “good job so far” in the Senate, but still has some time to gauge who his primary opponents might be.

“Right now, my answer is ‘yes’,” said Bunning when asked about Paul’s prospects of a White House run in 2016.  “My gut feeling is, he will feel out the primary field and see. If he thinks he can win the primary, then I think he will continue.”

As for November’s Senate race, Bunning predicts Mitch McConnell will win by 20 points over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

“McConnell will win 60 percent to 40 percent,” said Bunning. “He usually doesn’t win that big, but I know Alison’s father [former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan] and he is that much of a detriment to her running.”

Recent polling showed a much closer race.

The 82-year-old former Republican lawmaker Baseball Hall of Famer an was in Bowling Green to sign autographs at the grand opening of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. Ollie's has more than 160 stores across the country and plans to open dozens more in the next two years.  Fifty-five employees work at the Bowling Green location.

When the topic turned to baseball, Bunning says he was shocked to learn about the death of his fellow Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn earlier this week.  Bunning says he saw Gwynn last year in Cooperstown and watched Gwynn’s son, Tony Jr.,  play over the weekend in Philadelphia.

Before his death, the elder Gwynn traced the cancer that took his life back to his years chewing tobacco.  But Bunning, for his part, does not believe Major League Baseball should outlaw smokeless tobacco.

“I think it’s up to the player.  I’m not going to tell them what to do and what not to do.  They’re grown up people,” said Bunning.  

Tobacco is banned in the minor leagues.

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of Jim Bunning’s perfect game, thrown against the Mets on Father’s Day, 1964.

“What do I remember about it? It was hot,” Bunning said.  “Ninety three at the start of the game, 96…about like today. I got away with some bad pitches early in the game and as the game progressed I got better control of three pitches.”

Bunning threw only 90 pitches en route to the perfect game.