At just 25, he might already be the best pitcher in World Series history.
Madison Bumgarner almost single-handedly led the San Francisco Giants to baseball’s world championship over the past 10 days, winning two games as a starting pitcher earlier in the series before throwing five innings of scoreless relief Wednesday to clinch the deciding Game 7 over the Kansas City Royals.
It was a staggering performance, though not the first postseason success for this 6’5″, 230-lb. October phenom. Still, the handsome, soft-spoken North Carolina native lives a relatively quiet life when he’s not dominating batters from the pitcher’s mound.
Below, check out five things to know about this year’s World Series MVP and baseball’s latest megastar.
1. By the numbers, he’s the best pitcher in World Series history.
The 2014 World Series was Bumgarner’s third, as he was also on the champion Giants teams of 2010 and 2012. Across those three World Series, he’s pitched 36 innings and given up just a single run – for an incredible ERA of 0.25. That’s an all-time record for anyone with 25 or more World Series innings.
2. He married his high school sweetheart when he was 20.
Bumgarner and Ali Saunders were married on Valentine’s Day in 2010. He wore jeans to the wedding, Yahoo! reported. The couple live in a condo in San Francisco during the season, but in the off-season they head back to a farm near where they grew up in Hickory, North Carolina.
3. He once gave his wife a cow for her birthday.
Farm living seems to suit Bumgarner and his wife. Indeed, Madison admitted in a 2011 video interview that he once gave Ali a cow for her birthday. “It’s pretty relaxing,” he said of the homestead life. “I’ve got 60 acres all to myself. Not too many people around.” Though in fact, many of those who are around are relatives. There are so many Bumgarners in Hickory that it’s earned the nickname Bumtown.
4. He tragically lost his half sister Dena in 2010.
Bumgarner began his first full season with the Giants with a heavy heart, after his half sister Dena died suddenly at 36 after accidentally overdosing on pain medication following a hospitalization. “She was my half sister, but she felt like a sister to me,” he said at the time. “We grew up in the same house She was a good girl. I loved her to death. Her family is going to miss her, but she’s going to a better place now.”
5. His dad was his baseball guide, while his mom was his spiritual guide.
Madison’s father, Kevin, guided his baseball dreams, even literally building a wall around his son’s high school bullpen to keep scouts away. His mom, Debbie, meanwhile, is quite religious and brought Madison up in the same Christian faith. While she is his biggest fan, Debbie – who has two other sons and a daughter – is also humble about his talents. “A mother’s love should never discriminate or be partial,” she told the Hickory Record last year. “They are all good at what they do; Madison just happens to be good at baseball.”