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Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro died Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, after a long battle with cancer at the age of 81. He was an invaluable member of the Board of Directors of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Born on April 1, 1939, in Blaine, Ohio, he was taught the knuckler by his father. Known for his famous knuckleball, Niekro became one of MLB’s greats.
What Is A Knuckleball?
For those that may not know what a knuckleball is, it is a baseball pitch thrown to slow down the spin of the ball in flight causing the pitch to have an unpredictable motion. This type of pitch made it very difficult for the batter to hit, pitchers to control, and catchers to catch. Hense giving Niekro the nickname Knucksie.
Niekro played 24 seasons in MLB with Milwaukee, Atlanta, Yankees, Cleveland, and the Blue Jays. By 1967, he was one of the best pitchers playing the game, leading the National League that year with an earn run average of 1.87. 1977-1979, he on average pitched 335 innings a season and was the last pitcher to post back-to-back seasons pitching at least 300 innings.
Across a 23 year span, Niekro’s record was 318 wins to 274 losses with a 3.35 ERA and 3,342 strikeouts. In 1973, he pitched a no-hitter and is one of ten men in history that accumulated 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.
Niekro was listed fourth among pitching greats Cy Young, Pud Galvin, Walter Johnson, and Nolan Ryan pitching 5,404 innings. Along with Niekro, seven other Hall of Famers made their transition this year. Remembering Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, and Tom Seaver.
Coopertown spokesman Shestakofsky said:
These names, and these men, will be remembered forever in Cooperstown
Written by Omari Jahi
Yahoo! Sports: Baseball Hall of Famer, knuckleballer Phil Niekro dies at 81, PAUL NEWBERRY
BaseballReference: Phil Niekro
CBS Sports: Phil Niekro, Hall of Fame knuckleballer and former Braves pitcher, dies at 81, Mike Axisa
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Wally Gobetz’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Chris Evans Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License