A toe was lost, then a nickname found


On this day in 1963 17-year-old Jim Hunter of Hertford in Perquimans County, hunting with his brothers on Thanksgiving Day, comes harrowingly close to ending his Hall of Fame pitching career before it starts. An accidental blast from a shotgun blows away his right little toe and embeds 45 pellets in his foot.

By June he has recovered sufficiently to sign a $75,000 contract with the Kansas City A’s. Flamboyant owner Charles O. Finley, dismayed that his “bonus baby” has no nickname, will concoct a story about Hunter’s running away from home at age 6 and being discovered fishing. Hence, “Catfish” Hunter.

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