• The immortal had been fighting cancer for several years
  • He pitched 5,404 innings and was selected five times All-Star

Niekro learned to play knuckles with the help of his father, who taught his two sons, Phil and Joe, the pitch between shifts at the local coal mine.

Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro died at the age of 81.

Niekro passed away in his sleep on Saturday night. He had battled cancer for the past several years.

Niekro was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. The iconic Knuckles player scored 318 victories in a 24-year career that included stints with the Braves, Indians, Yankees and Blue Jays. He was a five-time All-Star who finished in the top six in the National League Cy Young Award voting five times from 69 to 82.

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“Phil Niekro was one of the most distinctive and memorable pitchers of his generation,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “In the last century, no pitcher pitched more than Phil’s 5,404 innings. His knuckleball took him to five All-Star picks, three 20-win seasons for the Atlanta Braves, the 300-win club, and finally, Cooperstown.

But even more than his trademark tone and trademark durability, Phil will be remembered as one of the coolest people in our sport. He always represented his sport extraordinarily well, and we will miss him deeply. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend our condolences to Phil’s family, friends and the many fans that he earned throughout his life in our national pastime. ”

Born on April 1, 1939, in Blaine, Ohio, Niekro learned to play knuckles with the help of his father, who taught his two sons, Phil and Joe, to pitch between shifts at the local coal mine. Joe enjoyed a 22-season career as a major league pitcher from 1967 to 1988.

Phil Niekro made his major league debut with the Braves on April 15, 1964. He enjoyed a great season in ’67 when he posted a 1.87 ERA in 46 appearances (20 starts). But he didn’t become a full-time starter until ’68, when he was 29.

“Phil Niekro’s record on the field ranks him as one of the best pitchers in the game,” said Jane Forbes Clark, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “As a mentor, leader and friend, Phil brought out the best in all of us at Cooperstown. During more than a decade of serving as a member of the Hall of Fame board of directors, his wisdom, compassion, and love of the game proved invaluable in helping us shape our decisions. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I would like to send our deepest condolences to Nancy Niekro and the Niekro family. ”

After a 23-13 season in 1969 that firmly established him as one of the best in baseball, the long-running Niekro consistently racked up innings and stumped batters. The knuckler danced through summers in the Atlanta heat, and by the end of his 30s, Niekro became an absolute workhorse: averaging 335 innings per season from 1977 to 1979 and becoming the last pitcher to post consecutive seasons of al minus 300 entries. inclined.

He won 121 games after his 40th birthday, pitched a no-hitter against the Padres on August 5, 1973, and won the 300th game of his career on the last day of the 1985 season by throwing just one knuckle, on the last pitch. of the game.

Niekro and his brother Joe, another knuckle player, hold the record for the most wins by a sibling combination with 539. His 24 major league seasons also included stints with the Yankees, Indians and Blue Jays. Niekro finished with a 318-274 record and a 3.35 ERA.

For his humanitarian service, Niekro was honored with the Lou Gehrig Award, the Roberto Clemente Award, and the Brian Piccolo Award. Following her baseball career, she managed the Colorado Silver Bullets, a women’s baseball team, in the late 1990s.

Niekro was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 and served on the Museum’s Board of Directors since 2009. Phil Niekro memorial donations can be made to the Edmondson Telford Children’s Advocacy Center, 603 Washington St. SW, Gainesville, Ga., 30501.

Amelia Warner– After graduating from NYU with a master's degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Amelia Warner mostly covers Entertainment topics, but at times loves to write about movie reviews as well.

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