In 1990, Jim Palmer was accorded baseball’s highest honor by his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He received 92.6% of the 444 ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Of the eight pitchers elected in their first year of eligibility, Jim received the third highest percentage of votes. Jim Palmer is the only American League Hall of Fame pitcher to win the Cy Young Award three times as well as four Gold Glove Awards. A powerful persona in sports, Jim maintains a strong presence off the playing field through a variety of business, charity and personal interests.
Adopted at birth, Jim was only 9 years old when his adoptive father died. Shortly thereafter, his mother moved the family from New York to California. In 1960, she remarried and the family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona where he attended high school. At the age of 18, Jim signed a $50,000 bonus contract with the Orioles. Although offered a scholarship to play basketball at UCLA, Jim signed with the Orioles in 1963 as a free agent, a wise decision that was to bring him superstar status. His 21-year career as a pitcher is remarkable since he played only for the Baltimore Orioles and earned many club records, including most wins, completed games, strikeouts, walks, and shutouts.
In 1966, Jim became the youngest player ever to pitch a World Series shutout game. He was the winningest pitcher in the American League in the 1970s. His 2.86 ERA is fourth on the all time list. He’s recognized as being the only pitcher in history who had won a World Series game in each of three decades. Jim joins Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens, and Greg Maddux as the only pitchers who have won the Cy Young Award at least three times. After amassing 268 victories in a 20 year association with the Orioles, Jim asked for his release in May 1984. However, retirement was not one of the options he contemplated.
He has built a career as a broadcaster providing commentary to ABC, the cable networks ESPN and HTS, as well as local Baltimore stations. He has attained success broadcasting for ABC Sports and has been highly acclaimed by viewers for being “bright, opinionated, articulate,” having a “sense of humor” and a “tenacious memory” for the details of the game. He provided color commentary for the 1981,1985,1987, and 1989 World Series Games, the 1984,1986, 1988 All-Star Games, and the League Championship Games in 1978, 1980,1981, and 1982. From 1989 through 1991 he worked for the Orioles and Baltimore’s WMAR-TV doing play-by-play announcing of Orioles games. Additionally, in 1990, ESPN employed his talents as a commentator and expert analyst earning him an ACE cable award nomination. Since 1992, he has been broadcasting Orioles games for HTS, a mid-Atlantic cable network.
In 1994, ABC signed a multi-year deal with Jim to be the sportscaster for alternating World Series games, All-Star Games, Major League games as well as the Championship play-off series. For more than a decade and in 1997, Jim was the ABC Wide World of Sports color analyst for the Little League World Series. “For exemplifying the true spirit of Little League Baseball and serving as a positive role model and inspiration to millions of aspiring Little Leaguers,” Jim was awarded the 1990 William A. (Bill) Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award. In 1994, Jim was inducted into the Little League Baseball’s Hall of Excellence. In September 1997, Jim was hired to be the broadcaster for the first ever Major League Sporting Event filmed in digital format which aired live in Washington, D.C.
Jim “pitched” underwear for Jockey International for almost twenty years and in that time, he traveled coast to coast making over 500 in-store appearances on behalf of Jockey International, appearing on nearly every talk show, interviewing with television and radio stations in every city and narrating fashion events. Most visibly, he appeared in the company’s national print and television advertisements as well as on billboards in New York’s Times Square and other major cities. Jim also teamed up with Sansabelt, a division of Trans-Apparel Group as a main spokesperson. He was chosen for his credibility, positive image and dynamic appeal to new and existing customers. Since 1993, Jim has been the corporate spokesperson for The Money Store, a major national home equity lender. The Money Store television ads are shown nationwide, including Alaska.
In 1994, Jim was part of the Nabisco All-Star Legends, a consumer trading card program which was the largest and most successful in history. Regarded by news reporters and television broadcasters as “the perfect gentleman,” Jim personifies integrity, perseverance and excellence. He was the sports recipient of the American Image Award sponsored by the Male Apparel Industry and the Men’s Fashion Association of America. He has also been a spokesperson for other products, given speeches for corporations, associations and charitable organizations, hosted and served as representative in a number of corporate settings. He has even had a movie role in the film The Naked Gun.
The Sporting Life series, a PBS 10 part show in 1985, demonstrated his ability to interview celebrity lifestyles in the field of sports. He completed a pilot in 1992 called Living Today with Jim Palmer and did the original pilot for That’s Incredible. Additionally in January 1992, he hosted a one-hour special for Fox Television. Jim has filmed more than 75 Health Break spots shown nationally, appeared as a guest host on ET and co-hosted The Learning Channel’s new special So You Want To Be In Baseball? In April 1994, Jim made his debut contributing baseball feature articles for Inside Sports magazine. In May 1985, Harper & Row published his book titled The Palmer Way To Fitness, a 22 Minute Total Body Workout video was filmed and completed in 1995. Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine, a book Jim co-wrote and published by Andrews & McMeel, hit bookstores in the spring of 1996-2001.
A gentleman in every respect, Jim has served for over two decades as a national sports chairman for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and when traveling has stopped at local chapters, visited youngsters in hospitals, making radio tapes and appearing at benefits. At Jim’s request, the royalties from his famous poster ad for Jockey were donated to the CF Foundation. In May 1993, Jim was the commencement speaker for Carthage College and received an Honorary Doctorate of Education for his contributions to American culture and his dedication to the CF cause.
In October 1996-2001, he hosted his Sixth Celebrity Golf Tournament benefiting the CF Foundation. These tournaments alone raised a million dollars. Additionally, he has made public service announcements and assisted in a variety of charitable and community causes including D.A. R. E., Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Grant-A-Wish, Special Olympics, Baseball Assistance Team and local Recycling Programs.
In contrast to his superstar status, Jim is quiet, determined, goal oriented, and unassuming. When he is not traveling, filming ads, broadcasting or appearing as a keynote or motivational speaker, he enjoys gardening at his Baltimore home.His recent focus on golf has him approaching scratch golf play.
He participates in several Celebrity Golf Tournaments each year, which have included the prestigious Bob Hope Invitational and the Crosby. Tennis and racquetball, biking and skiing are other activities he enjoys. He relaxes by listening to music and reading books and sports publications. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland and in Juno Beach, Florida. Jim’s two daughters, Jamie and Kelly, both college graduates reside respectively in Boston and Baltimore, and his step-son, P.J. is a finance major at the University of Maryland.