- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

Baseball heist

Before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998, before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986, before he was appointed Republican leader of the Kentucky state Senate in 1979, and before he served as a city alderman in 1977, Sen. Jim Bunning threw baseballs for a living.

The Kentucky Republican and father of nine children spent 17 record-setting years as a major league baseball pitcher, primarily for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame after becoming the second pitcher in history — Cy Young was the first — to record 1,000 strikeouts and 100 wins in both the National and American Leagues.

When he finally stepped down from the mound in 1971 he was No. 2 on the all-time strikeout list.

Now, Inside the Beltway has learned that one of the senator’s most valued possessions from his baseball career — a signed baseball from the 1957 All-Star Game, in which he was the American League’s starting and winning pitcher — has been stolen from his Capitol Hill office.

The baseball was autographed by almost the entire 1957 All-Star roster from both leagues — Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams among them.

The ball was snatched from Mr. Bunning’s office sometime during the Fourth of July recess. It was displayed on a shelf in the senator’s conference room, located on the third floor of the Senate Hart Office Building.

Among the other All-Star greats who played with Mr. Bunning in 1957 were Al Kaline, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Gil Hodges, Willie Mays, Stan Musial and Frank Robinson. Most, if not all, of the players signed the baseball.

Brian Marren, vice president of acquisitions for the MastroNet Auctions in Chicago, told Inside the Beltway yesterday that the baseball easily could be worth $10,000.

Of course, it’s not the baseball’s monetary value, rather the memories it conjures up that mean so much to Mr. Bunning.

The pitcher would like his baseball back, please.

Juan Hancock

The U.S. Constitution published in Spanish?

“Si, senor,” and the Declaration of Independence, too, er, the “Declaracion de Independencia.”

The Cato Institute in Washington explains that because the number of “non-English-speaking citizens” of the United States continues to increase, it’s decided to publish America’s founding documents bilingually so the are “accessible to every American.”

“The Founders drafted an extraordinarily thoughtful plan of government, but it is up to each of us, to each generation, to preserve it for ourselves and for future generations,” says Roger Pilon, director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

The Spanish edition of the documents will be published in the same “pocket” format as Cato’s popular English version — to “help new Americans and future Americans as they realize the American Dream,” says the think tank.

Congress has refused on several occasions over the years to make English the official language of the United States.

Bubba-speak

Anybody miss Bill Clinton?

“While the former first lady and junior senator from New York [Hillary Rodham Clinton] is baring her soul on every channel from CNN to Animal Planet — reminding America of the most scintillating details of the Clinton years — Americans young and old can hear once again from [Bill Clinton],” says the California-based doll maker Talking Presidents.

That’s right, the long-awaited talking William Jefferson Clinton political action figure is officially baring its soul this week, reminding proud Democrats and Republicans alike of the historical and hysterical moments of the Clinton co-presidency.

Inside the Beltway couldn’t help but pick up one of the presidential collectibles yesterday. After listening to it speak, here in our opinion are the most historical phrases that helped shape the Clinton legacy:

• “Last year, the vice president launched a new effort to make communities more liberal, ahhh liveable, liberal, ahhh, no. ”

• “I experimented with marijuana a time or two and I didn’t like it, and didn’t inhale and never tried it again.”

• “I want to say one thing to the American people — I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

• “It depends upon what the meaning of the word is is.”

Bill Clinton is the second in a series of political action figures by Talking Presidents (www.talkingpresidents.com). It follows the release of the wildly popular talking George W. Bush action figure, 12,000 of which sold out in less than a week.

The toy maker expects the Clinton doll to be even more popular.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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