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Baseball still paying dividends for Sen. Bunning

By Ben Pershing
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) may have had a rocky 2009 in some respects -- he was pressured into retiring by members of his own party after a series of controversies. But seen another way, Bunning had a championship year.

According to Bunning's personal financial disclosure form for 2009, which was released Wednesday, the Hall of Fame pitcher-turned-senator received a World Series ring last April -- valued at $12,300 -- from the Philadelphia Phillies to commemorate the team's 2008 championship.

Now, Bunning didn't pitch a single inning for the team in 2008, but he did rack up 89 wins for the club during his career. And the ring must have been a nice treat, given that Bunning never got to pitch in the postseason during his 17 seasons in the majors

In order to accept such a pricey gift, Bunning had to get a waiver from the Senate Ethics Committee. He included a March 2009 letter from the panel with his disclosure form, and the letter states that the Phillies organization wanted to give "each of its former Hall of Fame pitchers a commemorative ring in honor of its World Series victory last fall." (Presumably it wasn't just pitchers who got the honor.) Because the gift of a ring was unrelated to his status as a senator, he was allowed to keep it.

The Phillies also paid for Bunning and his wife to come to Philadelphia twice in 2009 -- once for the team's "Alumni Weekend" and once for the team's second consecutive World Series. (Bunning won't be getting a ring for that one, since the Phillies lost to the Yankees.)

Bunning's former profession paid off in other ways in 2009. His disclosure form reveals that he earned close to $20,000 in baseball-related income for the year, most of it for appearances at baseball card shows plus $1,250 for a "private baseball signing" in Michigan.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 16, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
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