About the JCHALSF

Born James Augustus Hunter to Abbott & Lillie Hunter in Hertford, N.C. on April 8, 1946, Jimmy, as family and friends knew him, was the youngest of eight children in the Hunter family.

The son of area sharecroppers, Jimmy knew the importance of family and friends in small town life. His love of the outdoors grew from childhood experiences, as did his love of the game. Jimmy attended Perquimans County High School, where he excelled in both football and baseball, but baseball would become his life.

In 1965, with his high-school sweetheart, Helen, by his side, young Jimmy signed with Charles O. Finley of the Kansas City Athletics. Finley gave Jimmy the nickname of “Catfish” that corresponded with his small-town roots and down home manner.

Throughout his baseball career, his relationship with Helen grew. They were married on October 9, 1966, had three wonderful children and now have four beautiful grandchildren. After his 15-year career, Jimmy retired to his hometown of Hertford to a modest farm that occupied both his heart and his time.

Jim “Catfish” Hunter was an outstanding baseball player, known not only for his pitching career, but also his batting ability. Batting and throwing right-handed, Jimmy made his American League pitching debut on May 13, 1965.

Click below to see highlights of his athletic career, playing for the Kansas City Athletics (1965-1967), the Oakland Athletics (1968-1974), and the New York Yankees (1975-1979).

Kansas City Athletics (Signed 1965)

  • May 13, 1965 Made American League Debut
  • 1966 Named to All-Star team
  • 1967 Named to All-Star team

Oakland Athletics (Signed 1968)

  • May 8, 1968 Pitched American League's first regular season perfect game in 46 years
  • 1970 The first season he averaging over .500 from the mound (18-14); Tied for American League lead with 40 starts; Named to All-Star team
  • 1971 Won 21 games
  • 1972 Won 21 games; Led American League in games won (.750); Named to All-Star team; Assisted A's in World Series win
  • 1973 Won 21 games; Led American League in games won (.808); Named to All-Star team; Assisted A's in World Series win
  • 1974 Awarded Cy Young award ; Named Pitcher of the Year by Sporting news; With 25 wins, tied with Fergie Jenkins for American League lead; 2.49 ERA stood alone at top; Named to All-Star team; Assisted A's in World Series win
  • 1974 Discovered breach of contract with A's and declared a Free Agent for the 1975 season, making headway for players across the country

Oakland Notables

  • 4-0 with one save in seven A's World Series appearances
  • Holds Oakland's All-Time top spots in wins (161), starts (340), innings (2,456), shutouts (31) and strikeouts (1,520)

New York Yankees (Signed 1975)

  • 1975 Went 23-14, tying with Jim Palmer in wins, topping American League in complete games and innings pitched; Named to All-Star team
  • 1976 Assisted Yankees in World Series (lost to Cincinnati Reds); Named to All-Star team
  • 1977 Assisted Yankees in World Series win
  • 1978 Assisted Yankees in World Series win
  • 1979 – Retired at age 33, ending 15-year career

Career Notables

  • Didn't miss a start from 1965-1977
  • Career IP – 3448
  • Career W-L – 224-166
  • Good hitting pitcher – Batted .350 in 1971 (36 for 103) and batted a lifetime .226 with 6 homeruns
  • Pitched in six of 10 World Series games in 1970s
  • World Series marks in five categories rank among the top ten in history
  • Was honored in North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame  
  • 1987 – “Catfish” Hunter was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where his plaque reads,
    “The bigger the game, the better he pitched.”

Jimmy Coaching a Little League Team

Jimmy definitely made great strides in his baseball career – a career that baseball fans, friends and family will forever cherish.

Upon retirement, Jimmy's return to Hertford, N.C. was one Perquimans County natives are very thankful. He was an outstanding person, dedicated to making his community a better place to live. The respect and love held for the hometown hero is unimaginable.

In September of 1998, Jimmy was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that would compromise his living condition and contribute to his death on September 9, 1999, at the age of 53.

A very private man, Jimmy was able to use his celebrity to increase awareness of Lou Gehrig's disease, joining friends and family in starting The Jim “Catfish” Hunter ALS Foundation in Hertford, N.C.

While he may no longer be here, his wife Helen along with family and friends, continue to work tirelessly to fulfill their mission to help promote research that will lead to a cure.

The National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Registry — www.cdc.gov/als — (800) 232-4637