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Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Alito, Bunning discuss Phillies' collapse in '64

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- In 1964, the Philadelphia Phillies and star pitcher Jim Bunning dashed 14-year-old Samuel Alito's pennant hopes. Forty-one years later, Bunning can make it up to him.

Bunning, now a Republican senator from Kentucky, ran into the Supreme Court nominee in a Capitol bathroom last week.

Alito grew up rooting for the Hall of Famer in New Jersey, and had no problem speaking his mind about the Phillies' epic collapse.

"This jurist is probably the biggest Phillies fan in the world. He proceeded to tell me about the 1964 season and how we blew the pennant," Bunning said Tuesday.

The '64 Phillies collapsed after having held first place in the National League for much of the summer, losing 10 straight games and missing out on the World Series. Bunning finished the year 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA.

Immediately after the bathroom encounter, which took place last Thursday in the Capitol, Bunning and Alito arranged a slightly more dignified meeting in a room off the senate floor, where they talked about judicial philosophy.

Bunning said he would support Alito's nomination.

"In my opinion he is as bright and as scholarly as [newly appointed Chief Justice John] Roberts. I couldn't think of anybody better," Bunning said.

President Bush nominated Alito as a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, an important swing vote on issues such as abortion and affirmative action. Alito is Bush's second pick for the O'Connor seat, following the failure of White House counsel Harriet Miers to garner support from conservatives who were worried about her judicial philosophy and lack of experience as a judge.