Little Cameron woke up early this morning. To give Mom a quiet house and a chance to sleep in today, we packed up a little bag of supplies and headed out to run some errands. My parents live about 15 minutes away so we decided to bring “Sunny and Pappa-Daddy” Egg McMuffins for breakfast. My birthday was last week so my Mom handed me a small gift bag with a gift and a page from last week’s Virginia Pilot. The article was from the travel section and featured a quick story on the opening of the Jim Catfish Hunter museum in Hertford North Carolina. Located in the Perquimans County Chamber of Commerce building, the exhibition takes up two rooms and features memorabilia from Hunter’s high school days through his major league baseball years with the Athletics and the Yankees.
At first glace, Jim Hunter may be seen as one of the more “colorful” baseball Hall of Famers. The nickname “Catfish” gives that impression. The nickname was actually given to him by the owner of the Oakland Athletics Charlie Finley. When Jim Hunter signed his first professional baseball contract, Finley asked if he had a nickname. “Jimmy” was Hunter’s response.
Seeing that “Jimmy” wouldn’t be giving Finley very many promotional opportunities, he fabricated a story on the spot – “You left home when you were 6 years old. Your momma and daddy couldn’t find you. When they did finally find you, you had landed two catfish and had a third on the line. They have been calling you ‘Catfish’ ever since.”
After listening to this new story about himself, Hunter said, “Mr. Finley, no one has EVER called me ‘Catfish.'”
Finley simply said, “I just gave you $75,000.”
“Yes, sir. My name is ‘Catfish,'” Hunter replied.
Hertford is just a few hours from me and makes for a nice day trip. I’ll certainly be taking Cameron down there to check it out once he’s old enough to appreciate it.
The Jim “Catfish” Hunter Museum
118 W Market St (In the Chamber building located in Historic Hertford)
Hertford, NC 27944