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Catfish Hunter's Death

Catfish Hunter

The life and death of Jim "Catfish" Hunter:

He was the real deal on the pitcher's mound – a true ace who's remembered as a pioneering free agent, besides a multiple World Series champion, perfect game author and Cy Young award winner.

James Augustus Hunter was born and raised in Hertford, North Carolina. He excelled in sports, particularly football and baseball. Not even a teenaged hunting injury which permanently damaged his right foot could stop him.

Catfish Hunter baseball card on Kansas City Athletics

When he signed with the Athletics, then based in Kansas City, their colorful owner Charlie Finley wanted to add some luster to his team of also-rans. So he assigned Jim a nickname that no-one had ever called him before: Catfish. And that's how he'll always be remembered.

Catfish Hunter baseball card on Kansas City Athletics

Starring for the A's in Kansas City and later Oakland, Hunter was an 8 time All Star, pitched a perfect game on May 8th , 1968, played for 3 World series champion A's teams and won the Cy Young Award in 1974.

Catfish Hunter on cover of sports illustrated

He was the first pitcher to notch 200 career wins by the age 31. The A's retired his number 27.

Catfish Hunter number 27 retired by the A's

Clearly one of the best pitchers in baseball, when free agency was accepted, he scored what was then considered a huge 3.35 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees…

Catfish Hunter pitching for the Yankees

…opening a new era in his career and in baseball itself.

He appeared in another 3 World Series with the Yanks, two of them on the winning team.

For all of his accomplishments, Catfish was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In retirement, Catfish returned to his hometown and farmed corn, soybeans, peanuts and cotton.The irony here is that Hunter, who was popular with his teammates and the press, suffered the same fate as another well-respected Yankee: Lou Gehrig, because in the winter of 1997-98, after noticing a pronounced weakness in his arm, Hunter was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease: ALS, and died at his home in Hertford at age 53.

Catfish Hunter at Yankee stadium

He's buried in Cedarwood Cemetery in Hertford…

Catfish Hunter grave

…near the field where he played high school baseball.