tv Senator Mitch Mc Connell on Jim Bunning CSPAN July 8, 2017 7:25pm-8:01pm EDT
from people and hurt people. it happens, but most people recognize you cannot do it. it is not your legal for the government to do it. >> for our fleet schedule, or to c-span.org. baseball hall of famer jim bunning who went on to the house and senate passed away in may. up next, mitch mcconnell talks about the life and career of his fellow republican. in 2013.recorded it is about 30 minutes. >> thank you very much. good afternoon, everyone. as jeff mentioned, this is the fourth in a series of speeches i have been giving on college campuses highlighting some of the more accomplished members of the united states senate we've
had from our state going back to the beginning. the first beach was at sutter about two guys that have probably been long forgotten by most people but were influential in their time, john brown and samuel breckenridge. the second was somebody you have all heard of, at u.k., and the speech was about henry clay. the third was at eastern kentucky university and about john j crittenden, who was sort of a protege of clay and came along after clay and rose to prominence in the 1850's. today, i am pleased to be speaking of someone who will actually be here to hear it. [laughter] >> in the humid night air, several men in short sleeves tot to their feet -- leapt
their feet and began to yell. there were simultaneously followed by others. as each person jumped up to scream, it created an inexorable dynamic. life ofd taking on a its own. within seconds, scores and then hundreds of people were on their feet, all shouting viciously. like a wave, the hundreds became thousands and then tens of thousands, the thunderous roar was made all the more menacing by the cavernous surroundings and the fact that the object of the crowd's range stood far below them. lone, silhouetted figure, his face largely concealed by his hat. he was completely encircled by the riotous crowd, albeit at a remove of a feud is in yards.
enemyeless, he was an territory, hundreds of miles from home, standing virtually alone. the source of the crowd's ire was tall, but under the right lights he seemed small and vulnerable. despite the lonely surroundings and the torrent of abuse directed toward him, the apparently vulnerable fiction gureed -- vulnerable fic seemed impervious. all he had against the crowd was self belief, and colleagues stationed far away from him, but that was enough. ae location of this event was major-league ballpark. that man was jim bunning. he is the subject of my talk
today. the scene i just described replayed itself many times over jim'sd games throughout career. but it is more than that. it is a reflection of his public career, as well. on many occasions, he stood ofne, ignoring the howls credits and naysayers, relying only on his convictions and self-confidence. as he has said, i have been b ooed by 60,000 fans in yankee stadium. standing alone on the mound. if never cared if i stood alone in congress as long as i stood by my beliefs and values. today's speech will continue a series of talks i have begun on past u.s. senators to kentucky. our commonwealth has been blessed with a rich heritage and
has contributed much to our nations development. i hope to convey a bit of that political history to the lives of some of the distinguished today's subject is living history. both from a baseball and political point of view. i've known jim since the early 1980's and as many of you know our careers have long been intertwined. in fact that continues to this very day as i'm proud to say that jim's granddaughter amanda works on my staff and is here today. jim was born in southgate in the midst of the great depression, the second three children. his father lewis worked at a ladder manufacturing plant to provide for the family. jim's mother gladys displayed talent of her own. a notable basketball player in high school, played tennis and ice skated.
both parents urged jim to follow his dreams and to stay on the straight and narrow. looking back jim recollected mom and dad always encouraged me in everything i did. as a youth jim performed well both in sports and in the classroom. he started pitching as a young boy, as jim recalled, i had the only ball and glove. despite his athletic prowess as the second child jim was often scrambling to keep up with his older brother lou. he started pitching as a young boy, as jim recalled, i had the it was in his early efforts to keep up with lou that one can see the competitive fires that burned so brightly in jim. but this competition between the brothers belied the tight bond that existed between them. that close fraternal relationship reflected another major theme of jim's life, the importance of family.
as a little boy, jim met a girl, mary katherine. he was in the fifth grade, she was in the fourth. the two grew up a mile away from the two grew up a mile away from each other. as jim fondly remembers, it was a minute away by bike. all i had to do was ride down the hill. of all of the blessings that come jim's way, his story book relationship with mary has got to top the list. i expect jim would be the first to tell you that his success in life could not have occurred without mary. she would raise their nine children, stood with him during all of the glory and the hardships of his baseball career. she was, in jim's word, his rock, his best fan and his best friend. as we will see, she was also crucial to his political success.
children, stood with him during all of the glory and the i'm pleased to say that mary's individual achievements have been publicly recognized. she was awarded the 2013 henrietta cleveland inspiring woman award. even though he was a baseball star in high school and was signed by the detroit tigers in 1950, jim's parents implored him to get his college degree. he attended xavier and earned a degree in economics in 1953. a course of study that would literally pay dividends down the road. only after graduating did jim turn full attention to our national past time. in his third year he won 20 games and in 1958 he threw a no-hitter in fenway park against the red sox. in that game, as a number of you know, he fanned ted williams three times.
what many don't realize, however, is that not only did he no-hitter come against the likes of williams, but it occurred with the opposing side actually knowing which pitches were coming. the red sox had stolen the tigers' signs and were tipping off the boston hitters. didn't make any difference. this was not the only time an opposing team would steal the coming. the red sox had stolen the tigers' signs and were tipping tigers' signs. in a tigers/yankee game in the early 1960's, jim caught on to the fact that the first base coach was tipping off yankee's hitters to jim's fastball. he was doing this, the first base coach with a quick whistle before the pitch was delivered. when the third yankee batter stepped to the plate, jim turned to the new york coach and gave him fair warning, saying if he whistled again, jim would, in his own words, would drill the
next batter. when jim returned to the mound, much to his surprise he again heard the shrill sound of the whistle and with that jim promptly hit the next batter squarely in the back. that batter happened to be mickey mantle. who grimaced in pain and headed straight for the mound. the tiger catcher stopped mantle in his tracks, however. while a pained mickey mantle staggered toward first place, the next hitter came to the plate. it was yogi berra. he had watched these events transpire with great interest in his tracks, however. and when berra stepped into the batter box, the yankee coach again let out a whistle. as jim's family recalls, berra,
in an act of self-preservation, immediately stepped back from the plate and pleaded to jim, he's whistling, but i ain't listening. even when the baseball -- when his baseball career was far behind him, i can assure you that in the political realm jim could serve up some chin music. mickey mantle is not the only person with those initials to be plunked by jim. after several all star seasons in the american league with detroit, the tigers apparently decided jim was expendable. they traded him to the philadelphia phillies in the national league before the 1964 season, a really big mistake on detroit's part. during his first year with the phillies, jim took the club to the brink of the pennant and threw a perfect game in the process.
after that perfect game the detroit free press noted, it was learned through reliable sources that the phillies do not intend to return jim bunning to the tigers. jim continued to pitch well for the phillies after the 1964 season, but the team often gave him little support. in 1967, for example, jim had one of his best seasons but went only 17-15. that year he suffered, listen to this, five, five, 1-0 losses, which tied a major league record, a record i suspect jim does not cherish. he still found time to be active in the nation player's association movement. in the mid 1960's, he and a handle of players were tasked with interviewing players to
become executive directors of the player's association. one of the candidates was a well-known lawyer in new york city. they met the attorney at his office and he invited them to lunch with one of his colleagues. jim and the others were impressed with the man's knowledge and ideas about the national past time. yet in the end the attorney declined the players' offer. as jim recalls, he had other plans. the attorney was richard nixon. and the colleague he brought to lunch with him was tom duey. as jim has joked, i must have been a bad salesman and added if nixon would have taken that job, american history would have been dramatically changed. ultimately jim played an important role in bringing marvin miller into the executive director position. a man that would revolutionize the economics of the game. as active as jim was in the players' association he was no
fan of players' strikes and other union techniques, such as the lack of a secret ballot. jim believed such tactics were harmful to the game. in 1971, after 17 years in majors, jim retired, leaving behind a rich legacy of achievement that included pitching and winning the first game every at philadelphia's veteran's stadium. recognition of his career with the phillies, jim's number 14 was retired by the team. at his retirement jim sound the cy young as the second player ever to record 100 wins, 1,000 strike-outs and a no hitter in each league. and only walter johnson had thrown more strikeouts at the time. i would point out, however, that as great as johnson was, unlike jim, he never made it to congress. he was defeated in his bid for a maryland congressional seat in 1940. jim's great baseball career was finally capped off his by election to the hall of fame in
1996. to many this honor was long overdue and perhaps reflected jim's disinclination to cultivate sports writers who had the first crack to secting hall of famers. unfortunately both of his parents had passed away and could not be with him on this proud occasion. no doubt they were there in spirit. on christmas day 1971, jim received his most memorable gift from his parents. a pair of scrapbooks about his baseball career. in one of the volumes was an inscription that read as follows. we wish to dedicate these two scrapbooks to our middle son, james paul david bunning, who we held as a tiny infant, loved as an exploring child, disciplined as a young boy and tried to
guide as a young man. but before we realized it he was grown up, married and with a family of his own. but even as a boy he had big dreams and by his hard work and devotion and determination and the help of a loving and understanding wife, he made a success of what he wanted to be. may this be an inspiration to his children in the future or any young person with big dreams. we are thankful for the great moments he gave us and the millions of people who followed his outstanding career. we hope as the years pass he will be enshrined in the baseball hall of fame. it was signed lovingly, your devoted mother and dad. that moving note tells a lot about the kind of parents jim had and of their importance in jim's life. after jim retired as a player he
tried his hand with some success at minor league manage in the philly's organization. he established himself as the heir apparent to a major league job. despite that, jim was unceremoniously let go by the organization. and that was the beginning of a whole new thing. he returned to fort thomas to work as a broker and a player agent and as a testament to the trust jim engendered as a manager that a number of the players who had played for him in the minors asked him to be their agent. jim was initially drawn to politics because he wanted to give something back to his beloved fort thomas. in 1977, he won election to the city council. in no time he had moved on to the state senate where he became the republican leader. i would note the vote was 5-4. there weren't many republicans in the state senate then, which tells you, you know, how few there were. they have 24 now. jim discovered that one of the
advantages politics offered were that he and mary could work together and mary proved to be a natural. she and jim spent long hours going door to door. as jim recalls, mary was a lot better at walking precincts and knocking on doors than i was. mary herself commented in one campaign in his speeches jim says we're running and we are. in 1983 at the urging of state party leaders jim ran for governor. says we're running and we are. even though he got a late start and lost to martha lane collins, it was the best any gubernatorial candidate had done in two decades. jim's efforts as a candidate and state senator help signal the rejuvenation of the state gop. when gene snyder announced he would retired in 1986, jim decided to run for his spot.
jim assembled an all-star team of a different kind. a political all-star team. lee atwater ran the campaign, roger ailes did jim's media and bob teeter did the polling. all three would later be reunited on george h.w. bush's presidential campaign two years later. even with this topnotch group and a tremendous personal effort, both jim and mary agreed election night was tense. tense. it got to the point where mary could no longer sit around waiting for the returns. as she recalled, when i get nervous, i go shopping. to which jim replied and then i get nervous. ultimately there was no need for them to be anxious. jim won handily 55-44 which in our line of work is a nice margin. not long into his house tender
he secured a seat on the house ways and means committee with jurisdiction over taxes and many entitlement programs. committee assignments are much more important than in the senate. it's a reflection of how floor proceedings operate in both chambers. in the house the rules traditions ensure that. the setting with which individual lawmakers typically exercise influence is in the committee. while house members can introduce any bills they want, house leadership and the rules committee with few exceptions decide which bills come to the floor and which amendments will be offer. this means that aside from brief floor speeches, the main outlet for house members to influence legislation is in the committee they're on. in the senate lawmakers not only have the ability to participate in committee deliberations but also have broad authority to go to the floor and offer amendments and often get them voted on.
this is the case even if senators do not sit on the relevant committees of jurisdiction. so from an individual standpoint a lawmaker can generally do more on a wider variety of subjects over on the senate side. in jim's case in the house, he took full advantage of his committee perch, becoming an expert on social security and entitlement spending. for instance, jim pushed for the social security ticket to work act which was designed to help disabled americans return to work. it was ultimately enacted in 1999. jim is also largely responsible for lifting the amount of income that social security beneficiaries can earn. prior to jim's effort there was a disincentive for seniors to work. now they can remain productive in the workplace. he saw it enacted after he came over to the senate. given the importance of family
to jim, it is not surprising that he was influenced by those closest to him. two of jim's daughters have adopted children and the issue became one near and dear to his heart. in the mid-1990's, jim pushed for favorable tax treatment for adoptable parents. he served on the house ethics committee. he was highly critical of lawmakers who had bounced checks at the house bank. in 1998, after 12 years in the house, jim took a cue from a commencement address he had heard. the speaker at that commencement said, if you're comfortable in what you're doing, you're not doing enough. jim thought that perhaps he had grown too comfortable in the house and could do more in the senate. jim seized the opportunity to run for the senate and won a competitive race. in the senate, jim became active
in banking matters, working on measures such as grahams. also helped secure enactment of the 2004 flood act. this was the assistance program created to help communities reduce the risk of flood damage. however, the bush administration proved slow in issuing rules under this measure. as a result jim had to place a hold on a fema nominee to ensure the regulations were finally issued. now placing a hold on his party's nominee was just one of jim's many stands on principle during his public career. as the congressional quarterly once wrote, all agree that bunning is unafraid to go his own way. in the senate jim was tough on the federal reserve board long before others were. he was highly critical of alan
green greenspan at the time when the fed was exalted. jim was the only senator to vote against greenspan's success ore, ben bernanke. in addition jim was vocal in his criticism of the sport he loved so much, baseball. he spared neither management for players. he called for a revitalized commissioner's office and succeeded in narrowing baseball's anti-trust exemption, he was an early proponent of drug testing. his views on these issues did little to endear him to the national pastime's powers that be. but once again, jim went his own way. perhaps the best example was the extension over $10 billion in unemployment insurance.
not long before the great fanfare the senate passed a rule that ensured that new spending had to be paid for. the unemployment insurance measure was exceedingly popular but it was not offset, in other words, not paid for. a unanimous consent request was made on the measure and jim objected. in the senate there is much truth to the axiom that the chamber moves in two ways. by unanimous consent, or by exhaustion. if one senator is willing to words, not paid for. object to a request the senate remains in suspended animation until a set number of hours passes and until 60 votes can be mustered to invoke what we call cloture, the word for shutting down debate. this can be frustrating for the majority or the other 99 senators, but it empowers individual senators, and in turn their constituents. it also often draws public
attention to important policy concerns that would otherwise be completely ignored. jim objected repeatedly to prove a worthy point. that the unemployment insurance benefit should be paid for and not simply tacked on to the mounting national debt. this stance reflected jim's deep and long-standing concern about profligate government spending. much like his lonely stand on the mound in yankee stadium decades before, jim's gambit on unemployment insurance received a torrent of catcalls. he was vilified in many circles. but it demonstrated once again jim's willingness to stand his ground, no matter what the critics said. ultimately, jim forced a vote to ensure the measure was paid for. as "the wall street journal" noted, his fight for fiscal responsibility was perhaps his finest hour.
in 2010, after more than three decades of public service, jim decided it was time to spend more time with those who had mattered most to him all along, his family. i've spoken to you today about jim bunning's two careers. but how did he succeed in two careers as different as sports and politics? walter johnson's experience teaches us that success in one does not necessarily mean success in the other. i believe that much of it goes to jim's character. perhaps the most obvious trait is that jim is very competitive. in the eyes of long-time baseball man don zimmer, jim was in the class of competitors. you can't be a more fierce competitor than bunning was. as jim once noted about politics, the competitive spirit got me more involved, and more
involved. this competitive instinct helped him immensely in his political career in which he only lost one race. in addition to being competitive, jim had a very strong work ethic. in baseball, he trained vigorously in the offseason when that was a rarity. he was equally diligent in public life. jim is also a man of strong beliefs. what is less well known, however, is that he is also respectful of the opinions of others. philadelphia sports writer and bunning biographer frank dolson recalled a telling anecdote. he said, i vividly remember a casual political discussion shortly after the 1992 presidential election when jim suddenly asked me how i voted. he said, i took a deep breath, quickly glanced around the room
to check the location of the nearest exit, and replied, rather bravely i thought, "i voted for bill clinton." jim did not raise his voice in anger. he did not order me to leave and never return. true, his face showed the disappointment he clearly felt that someone he knew so well could do such a thing. but the looks then passed and our friendship remained the same. four years later, while visiting the bunnings in kentucky, jim's but the looks then passed and wife mary asked the same question, though she phrased it a little differently. she said, you didn't vote for clinton, did you? yes, i told her, i voted for him. twice. then seeing the look on mary's face, i hastily added, but not in the same election. jim also had the ability to shrug off bad news and turn it into something positive.
when the tigers thought jim was washed up, he went on to pitch brilliantly for the phillies. when jim was dropped as a manager for the phillies aaa affiliate, costing him an opportunity to manage in the big leagues, he simply moved home, became a successful player agent, and public official. when he lost the governor's race in 1983, jim parlayed that defeat into a successful run for the house and later for the senate. jim's candor and his independence are also his hallmarks. i'm not always going to vote the way you want me to vote, he told a prominent veterans group during his first race for congress. i'm going to examine every issue and vote my conscience. in addition, jim inspires great loyalty. many of his former players asked him to be their agent. jim fostered a close and enduring relationship with members of his house and senate
staff. jim was never one to make excuses. he simply did what he felt he had to do. one of his big league managers summed it up this way. he never alibied, it was always, just give me the ball. finally the ultimate gauge of jim's character is his relationship with his family. an anecdote will demonstrate this. during his senate career jim was asked by a constituent about his grandchildren. at the time he had 34. i might add that since then it's become 35. jim's interlocutor bet that jim could not name all of his grandchildren. in response, jim began easily reciting the names of every one of them. once he had listed a good number of his grandchildren, the constituent conceded. amazed, the kentuckian asked,
how do you remember all 34? jim replied, it's not hard when you pray for each of them every night. according to the senate historical office, jim is one of only three individuals to be both a member of a professional sports hall of fame and a u.s. senator. the others are basketball player bill bradley and kentucky's own happy chandler, who was commissioner of baseball. but jim is not just a baseball hall of famer. he's a hall of famer in life. a storied baseball career and more than three decades as a successful public official would be sufficient, but he is also a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. in all of these areas, jim has shone brightly.
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