#4: Catfish Hunter
Catfish Hunter started his career with the Kansas City Athletics, but he was with them long after they moved to Oakland. Hunter was a key part of the A’s rotation before ending his career as a New York Yankee from 1975-1979, including eight All-Star selections, five World Series rings, and an American League Cy Young Award.
On May 8, 1968, Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins. It was only the ninth perfect game in history, but Hunter’s success didn’t just come on the mound. He knocked in three of the four A’s runs against the Twins, with three hits during the game.
In his Cy Young season, Hunter went 25-12 and posted a 2.49 ERA as he led the A’s to yet another World Series win in 1974. His four consecutive 20 win seasons remain one of the most impressive pitching accomplishments in Athletics history, and it’s no wonder that the A’s retired his number 27 in a ceremony during the 1991 season. It was the first number the Athletics had ever retired, even counting their years in Philadelphia and Kansas City.
He’s also in the Hall of Fame, where he refused to choose between the Athletics and the Yankees. He felt that his time with both teams was equally memorable and didn’t want to pick one over the other.
In 2004, the Athletics began handing out the Catfish Hunter Award each year, given to the “most inspirational player”. Stephen Vogt has won the award in each of the last two seasons.
Next: Top 50 Oakland Athletics: #3