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Jim Panther

A Burlington native, Jim Panther appeared in 85 games with three different teams in the early 1970s. Although he had a relatively short Major League career, he was a highly successful high school baseball coach in suburban Chicago.


The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Panther in the twenty-sixth round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft in 1966. He did not sign, and the Kansas City Athletics selected him in the fifth round of the 1967 draft. The A’s sent him to Class A Leesburg of the Florida State League to begin his pro career. Panther compiled a 2-1 record and a 2.84 ERA across eight games.


After three minor league seasons, Panther made his Major League debut with the Oakland A’s on April 5, 1971 – Opening Day at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium against the Washington Senators. He relieved A’s starter Vida Blue in the second inning and threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score, but he got the next batter to fly out to left field to end the inning. The A’s sent Panther down to Triple-A Iowa where he spent most of the 1971 season. He posted a 10-10 record with a 3.63 ERA in a career-h9gh 171 innings.


On March 4, 1972, the A’s traded Panther and pitcher Don Stanhouse to the Texas Rangers for former Cy Young award winner Denny McLain. He compiled a 5-9 record and 4.13 ERA in 93.2 innings across 58 games – mostly in relief.


Panther was traded again on October 27, 1972. The Rangers sent him to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Rico Carty. In 23 games in Atlanta, Panther posted a 2-3 record with a staggering 7.63 ERA across 30.2 innings.


A 1963 graduate of Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Illinois, Panther played four years of baseball, football, and basketball. He pitched a perfect game against Libertyville High School his senior year. He pitched for Southern Illinois University, graduating from SIU-Carbondale in 1967 with a degree in education.


Panther started coaching at Libertyville High School in 1983 and over the course of his coaching career he led his teams to seven conference titles and five regional titles. He retired from coaching in 2002 with a 526-169 record.


At last report, Panther and his wife Bonnie are living in Fort Myers, Florida.

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