Kunkel had a brief fling as a ML reliever. His most active year was 1961, when he
appeared in 58 games for the A's. He turned to umpiring and reached the ML in 1968.
It was Kunkel who discovered pitcher Rick Honeycutt doctoring the baseball with a
tack wedged inside a Band-Aid on his right hand. "I grabbed his hand and got stuck,"
Kunkel explained. Honeycutt received a 10-day suspension. During 1984 spring training,
Kunkel's son Jeff, a member of the Rangers, brought the lineup card to the plate
the only time father and son have appeared in the same ML game as umpire and player.
Kunkel was also a college basketball referee for 20 years.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»June 10, 1961:
At New York, ex-Yank Hank Bauer hits a inside-the-park homer over Mickey Mantle's head to the CF monuments, but Mantle's homer in the bottom of the 8th off rookie Bill Kunkel cements New York's 5–3 win over Kansas City.
»July 18, 1983:
At Toronto, George Brett is robbed of an apparent triple by his teammate Mike Armstrong. Brett hits a liner down the RF line that Armstrong, sitting in the bullpen, thinks is foul and retrieves. Ump Bill Kunkel decides to send U.L. Washington, who scored on the play, back the 2B, and Brett is sent to 2B. Brett has a homer off Jim Clancy but KC eventually loses , 8–2.