Jim Bullinger – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Rummel High School/University of New Orleans/MLB
Jim Bullinger, who was born on August 21, 1965, was a legendary baseball player at Rummel High School and the University of New Orleans before embarking on a 19-year professional baseball career.
An outstanding all-around athlete at Rummel, Bullinger played a significant role in the success of the Raider baseball program in the early 1980s. He helped lead the Raiders to a state championship and was selected to several all-district and all-metro teams.
As a college freshman in 1984, the pitcher/shortstop led the University of New Orleans to its first-ever College World Series appearance. In 1985, he set the school record with 23 doubles (still ranks third as of 2020). His 48 doubles over his three-year career (1984-86) is fourth-time at UNO. He also led the Privateers in saves with six in 1986.
After his collegiate career, he was drafted in the ninth round by the Chicago Cubs in 1986 and went on to play seven seasons in the majors for the Cubs, Montreal and Seattle. He posted a 34-41 career record with 392 strikeouts and a 5.06 ERA in 642 innings pitched. He never made a Major League error, handling all 171 of his chances flawlessly in his career.
Bullinger’s best Major League years were 1994 and 1995. In 1994, while pitching for the Cubs, he went 6-2 with two saves and a 3.60 ERA in 33 appearances, including 10 starts. The following year, he made 24 starts and recorded a 12-8 mark with a 4.14 ERA.
He made his Major League debut for the Cubs on May 27, 1992. He had a memorable rookie-year doubleheader on June 8 against the St. Louis Cardinals – in game one, he pitched three innings of one-hit ball. More significantly he had his first career Major League at bat and belted a home run on the first pitch he faced, one of only five pitchers to accomplish this feat. In game two of the twin bill, he picked up the save, one of seven saves he tallied as a rookie.He had three other saves that same week and was named the National League Player of the Week.
Bullinger tossed a complete-game one-hitter in a 3-1 victory over San Francisco on August 30, 1992 at Wrigley Field. The only hit was a solo homer in the eighth inning.
“I knew when I warmed up I had good stuff,” Bullinger told The Los Angeles Times afterward. “But I didn’t expect this.”
After his final Major League appearance in 1998, he continued pitching in the Minor Leagues, independent leagues and in Mexico until 2005.
Billinger was actually drafted to play shortstop and he reached AA Charlotte at that position, hitting .216 in 1989. However, after coming in to pitch in a blowout loss, he struck out four batters in two innings. The Cubs had him on the mound full-time the following season.
“If I hadn’t become a pitcher, I probably wouldn’t be with the Cubs,” Bullinger told The Washington Post. “And I possibly wouldn’t be playing baseball anymore. It was the most important decision of my life.”
Bullinger was inducted into the New Orleans Pro Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.