LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS) -- From the pitching mound to the floor of Congress, Jim Bunning could sometimes appear to be larger than life.
"I always just remember my grandfather walking around with a transistor radio in his ears and I remember him mentioning Jim Bunning's name more than once," Louisville Metro Councilwoman Angela Leet, R.-District 7, said. "You kind of see him as somebody who's going to be there forever."
Bunning died Saturday, leaving behind a legacy in Kentucky politics. His career influenced many public servants in the Bluegrass State, including Leet, who said she met Bunning in Washington in the early 2000s.
"He just provided so much leadership. He was somebody who showed you can do one career and easily transition to another career and be really excellent at both of them," she said. "And to show that loyalty and being faithful to your family were important values."
Bunning stepped into politics after his athletic career, trading the baseball stadium for the political arena. He worked his way from local government to state government and then to multiple terms in the U.S. House and Senate.
The staunch Republican stood by his beliefs, at times even taking on his own party, something he eluded to during his farewell address in 2010.
"I have been booed by 60,000 fans at Yankee Stadium standing alone at the pitcher's mound, so I have never really cared if I stood alone here in Congress as long as I stood by my beliefs and my values," he said.
"I think that's just a testament to his drive and thoroughness in following through and trying to stand for what you believe in," Leet said.
Other Kentucky lawmakers also offered their condolences. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote: "Jim rarely shied away from a new adventure. This Hall of Famer will long be remembered for many things, including a perfect game, a larger-than-life personality, a passion for Kentucky, and a loving family"
US Representative John Yarmuth also wrote: "When we served together, even though we had different thoughts on many things, I always respected him for speaking his mind. He'll now get to pitch no-hitters forever on his field of dreams."
Local leaders also sent their condolences after the announcement of Jim Bunning's passing.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers:
On behalf of my wife Regina and I, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Bunning family in this time of need. Regina worked with Senator Bunning for three years, and we both knew him as an exemplary Kentuckian. Senator Bunning had a tremendous baseball career in the MLB and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also had an impressive political career, being elected as state senator, running as a gubernatorial candidate, and serving as US Senator. Any single one of those accomplishments would be enough to mark a noteworthy career, but Senator Bunning had them all.
Kentucky Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover:
Jim Bunning was a great Kentuckian who served the people of this state most admirably for several years. He was a dear personal friend and mentor to me. I learned first hand in 2007 that Senator Bunning was loyal to his friends and when he made a commitment or gave you his word, you could depend on it. I will be forever grateful for his friendship. I extend my sympathies to his wonderful wife Mary and the entire Bunning family. Kentucky has lost one of its greatest citizens.
Congressman Andy Barr (6th District)
Today, Kentucky mourns the loss of a true legend. After a remarkable career in baseball, Jim Bunning could have gone anywhere and done anything. He chose to come home to Kentucky where he dedicated his life to his family and to public service. Throughout his entire career, he remained a principled conservative and unrelenting fighter for the causes he believed in and for the people of the Commonwealth. Today, Carol and I are thinking of and praying for his amazing wife Mary, their wonderful children and many grandchildren.
Congressman John Yarmuth (3rd District)
Sad to hear of the passing of Senator Jim Bunning. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time. When we served together, even though we had different thoughts on many things, I always respected him for speaking his mind. He'll now get to pitch no-hitters forever on his field of dreams.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senator Jim Bunning led a long and storied life. From his days in the major leagues to his years as my colleague in the Senate -- and the many points in between, from the City Council to the House of Representatives -- Jim rarely shied away from a new adventure. This Hall of Famer will long be remembered for many things, including a perfect game, a larger-than-life personality, a passion for Kentucky, and a loving family. Elaine and I offer our sincere condolences to Mary and the entire Bunning family.