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Phil Niekro

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Full Name: Philip Henry Niekro Primary Position: P
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/180 First Game: April 15, 1964
Birthdate: April 1, 1939 Final Game: September 27, 1987
Birthplace: Blaine, Ohio MLB Experience: 24 years
Bat/Throw: Right/Right
GoldstarGoldstarGoldstar

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997


Biography

Born on April 1, 1939 in Blaine, Ohio, Phil Niekro (Philip Henry Niekro) played for the Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays over the course of his 24 year career. Niekro broke into the bigs on April 15, 1964 with the Milwaukee Braves, and put up a 2.89 ERA in 74.2 innings pitched in 1965, his rookie year.

Most people believe that Phil Niekro's best season was 1969, when he posted a 2.56 ERA, won 23 games and struck out 193 batters.

With 318 career victories, Niekro is the most successful knuckleball pitcher of all time. He was also an excellent fielder, winning the National League Gold Glove award five times. Together with his brother and sometime teammate Joe, the Niekro brothers are the winningest brother combination in baseball history, with 539 wins between them. Phil Niekro's 121 career victories after the age of 40 is a major league record, and his longevity is attributed to the knuckleball, which, while a difficult pitch for pitchers to master, is easy on the arm and difficult for batters to hit. He is also the uncle of current MLB player Lance Niekro.

Niekro pitched for 20 seasons for the Atlanta Braves (two of those seasons when the team was still in Milwaukee) and was popular in the city of Atlanta for remaining loyal to a team that often had a losing record, as well as for his contributions to Atlanta charities. On August 5, 1973, he threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.

The Braves released the 45-year-old Niekro in 1984, who then signed with the New York Yankees and went on to win 16 games and make the last of his five All-Star appearances. It was while pitching for the Yankees that Niekro gained entry into the exclusive 300 win club with a shutout win over the Toronto Blue Jays on October 6, 1985. At 46, Niekro became the oldest pitcher to pitch a shutout in the major leagues, and became the only pitcher to throw a complete game shutout for his 300th win. Ironically, he did not throw his trademark knuckleball until the final hitter.

After two seasons in New York, Niekro pitched for the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays in 1986 and 1987. The Blue Jays released him after he pitched ineffectively, and as a publicity stunt, the Braves brought him back for one last start to wrap up his career late in the 1987 season. At the age of 48, Niekro was the oldest player in major league history to play regularly, and his 24 seasons in the major leagues without a World Series appearance is a major league record. He only appeared in the post season twice, making a playoff start in 1969 and again in 1982, both for Braves teams that would go on to lose the series.

After the end of his professional baseball career, Niekro managed the all-women Colorado Silver Bullets baseball team. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997.

Statistics

Pitching Stats

Year Team G GS W L ERA K R ER CG SHO SV IP H HR BB IB WP HBP
1964 MIL N 10 0 0 0 4.80 8 10 8 0 0 0 15 15 1 7 0 1 1
1965 MIL N 41 1 2 3 2.89 49 32 24 0 0 6 74.2 73 5 26 3 9 3
1966 ATL N 28 0 4 3 4.11 17 32 23 0 0 2 50.1 48 4 23 5 3 2
1967 ATL N 46 20 11 9 1.87 129 64 43 10 1 9 207 164 9 55 3 19 7
1968 ATL N 37 34 14 12 2.59 140 83 74 15 5 2 257 228 16 45 3 16 5
1969 ATL N 40 35 23 13 2.56 193 93 81 21 4 1 284.1 235 21 57 7 15 5
1970 ATL N 34 32 12 18 4.27 168 124 109 10 3 0 229.2 222 40 68 2 6 6
1971 ATL N 42 36 15 14 2.98 173 112 89 18 4 2 268.2 248 27 70 6 8 3
1972 ATL N 38 36 16 12 3.06 164 112 96 17 1 0 282.1 254 22 53 3 10 5
1973 ATL N 42 30 13 10 3.31 131 103 90 9 1 4 245 214 21 89 4 11 5
1974 ATL N 41 39 20 13 2.38 195 91 80 18 6 1 302.1 249 19 88 3 6 6
1975 ATL N 39 37 15 15 3.20 144 115 98 13 1 0 275.2 285 29 72 3 15 11
1976 ATL N 38 37 17 11 3.29 173 116 99 10 2 0 270.2 249 18 101 7 14 8
1977 ATL N 44 43 16 20 4.03 262 166 148 20 2 0 330.1 315 26 164 12 17 8
1978 ATL N 44 42 19 18 2.88 248 129 107 22 4 1 334.1 295 16 102 5 11 13
1979 ATL N 44 44 21 20 3.39 208 160 129 23 1 0 342 311 41 113 8 18 11
1980 ATL N 40 38 15 18 3.63 176 119 111 11 3 1 275 256 30 85 3 9 3
1981 ATL N 22 22 7 7 3.10 62 56 48 3 3 0 139.1 120 6 56 2 2 1
1982 ATL N 35 35 17 4 3.61 144 106 94 4 2 0 234.1 225 23 73 1 4 3
1983 ATL N 34 33 11 10 3.97 128 94 89 2 0 0 201.2 212 18 105 3 6 2
1984 NY A 32 31 16 8 3.09 136 85 74 5 1 0 215.2 219 15 76 0 2 3
1985 NY A 33 33 16 12 4.09 149 110 100 7 1 0 220 203 29 120 1 5 2
1986 CLE A 34 32 11 11 4.32 81 126 101 5 0 0 210.1 241 24 95 1 9 6
1987 TOR A 3 3 0 2 8.25 7 11 11 0 0 0 12 15 4 7 0 1 0
1987 CLE A 22 22 7 11 5.89 57 83 81 2 0 0 123.2 142 18 53 1 9 4
1987 ATL N 1 1 0 0 15.00 0 5 5 0 0 0 3 6 0 6 0 0 0
1987 Total 26 26 7 13 6.30 64 99 97 2 0 0 138.2 163 22 66 1 10 4
1987 TOT A 25 25 7 13 6.10 64 94 92 2 0 0 135.2 157 22 60 1 10 4
Total NL 740 595 268 230 3.20 2912 1922 1645 226 43 29 4622.2 4224 392 1458 83 200 108
Total AL 124 121 50 44 4.23 430 415 367 19 2 0 781.2 820 90 351 3 26 15
Total 864 716 318 274 3.35 3342 2337 2012 245 45 29 5404.1 5044 482 1809 86 226 123

Fielding Stats

Year Team POS G GS INN PO A ERR DP TP PB SB CS PkO AVG
1964 MIL N P 10 0 15 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1.000
1965 MIL N P 41 1 74.2 6 17 1 2 0 5 3 0 1 .958
1966 ATL N P 28 0 50.1 2 18 0 1 0 3 6 1 2 1.000
1967 ATL N P 46 20 207 10 40 4 4 0 25 21 6 3 .926
1968 ATL N P 37 34 256.2 18 59 4 4 0 11 8 5 7 .951
1969 ATL N P 40 35 284.1 24 51 3 4 0 24 17 5 5 .962
1970 ATL N P 34 32 229.2 14 38 1 4 0 12 25 6 0 .981
1971 ATL N P 42 36 268.2 19 44 2 6 0 15 10 6 3 .969
1972 ATL N P 38 36 282.1 26 40 4 4 0 23 10 5 2 .943
1973 ATL N P 42 30 245 30 41 4 4 0 12 26 12 3 .947
1974 ATL N P 41 39 302.1 22 42 0 3 0 20 18 13 1 1.000
1975 ATL N P 39 37 275.2 21 41 0 2 0 15 20 14 4 1.000
1976 ATL N P 38 37 270.2 19 41 2 2 0 18 27 7 1 .968
1977 ATL N P 44 43 330.1 20 51 0 5 0 26 47 32 4 1.000
1978 ATL N P 44 42 334.1 17 65 2 4 0 25 34 12 4 .976
1979 ATL N P 44 44 342 31 56 1 3 0 17 40 11 2 .989
1980 ATL N P 40 38 275 18 40 1 6 0 8 17 13 2 .983
1981 ATL N P 22 22 139.1 10 22 0 2 0 5 16 9 1 1.000
1982 ATL N P 35 35 234.1 18 38 1 4 0 5 17 16 3 .982
1983 ATL N P 34 33 201.2 15 27 2 6 0 2 27 11 2 .955
1984 NY A P 32 31 215.2 13 36 1 4 0 7 9 12 0 .980
1985 NY A P 33 33 220 11 20 0 5 0 14 22 5 1 1.000
1986 CLE A P 34 32 210.1 9 32 4 2 0 0 13 6 1 .911
1987 TOR A P 3 3 12 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 1.000
1987 CLE A P 22 22 123.2 12 17 0 1 0 0 10 7 0 1.000
1987 ATL N P 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1987 Total P 26 26 138.2 13 17 0 1 0 0 12 8 0 1.000
1987 TOT A P 25 25 135.2 13 17 0 1 0 0 12 8 0 1.000
Total P 864 716 5404 386 878 37 83 0 293 445 215 52 .972

Batting Stats

Year Team G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B BB SO HBP SH SB IBB GDP
1964 MIL N 10 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1965 MIL N 42 10 0 1 0 0 .100 .100 .100 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0
1966 ATL N 28 8 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 6 0 3 0 0 0
1967 ATL N 46 57 4 7 0 2 .123 .167 .158 2 0 1 16 2 6 0 0 2
1968 ATL N 37 77 3 8 2 7 .104 .104 .195 1 0 0 22 0 18 0 0 0
1969 ATL N 40 95 11 20 0 7 .211 .227 .253 4 0 2 21 0 9 0 0 1
1970 ATL N 34 79 5 12 1 3 .152 .171 .190 0 0 2 17 0 6 0 0 1
1971 ATL N 42 92 3 14 0 4 .152 .160 .163 1 0 0 20 1 7 0 0 0
1972 ATL N 38 93 7 18 1 4 .194 .216 .237 1 0 1 22 2 11 0 0 2
1973 ATL N 42 82 3 10 1 2 .122 .143 .207 4 0 1 26 1 7 0 0 4
1974 ATL N 41 104 5 20 0 11 .192 .220 .212 2 0 3 18 1 9 0 0 1
1975 ATL N 39 99 5 17 0 10 .172 .176 .212 2 1 1 18 0 4 0 0 1
1976 ATL N 38 94 5 18 1 12 .191 .198 .255 3 0 0 8 1 9 0 0 3
1977 ATL N 44 109 2 19 0 7 .174 .180 .183 1 0 0 15 1 12 0 0 3
1978 ATL N 45 120 5 27 0 10 .225 .248 .258 4 0 3 25 1 4 0 0 3
1979 ATL N 44 123 10 24 0 12 .195 .213 .244 6 0 1 19 2 7 0 0 1
1980 ATL N 40 90 2 12 0 5 .133 .143 .189 5 0 1 19 0 5 0 0 2
1981 ATL N 22 52 1 4 0 1 .077 .077 .077 0 0 0 11 0 3 0 0 0
1982 ATL N 35 87 6 17 1 7 .195 .193 .276 4 0 0 16 0 3 0 0 4
1983 ATL N 34 65 3 12 0 5 .185 .194 .215 2 0 1 12 0 6 0 0 7
1984 NY A 32 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1985 NY A 33 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1986 CLE A 34 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987 TOR A 3 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987 CLE A 22 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987 ATL N 1 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987 Total 26 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987 TOT A 25 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total NL 742 1537 80 260 7 109 .169 .183 .211 42 1 17 314 12 129 0 0 35
Total AL 124 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 866 1537 80 260 7 109 .169 .183 .211 42 1 17 314 12 129 0 0 35

Transactions

  • Signed as an amateur free agent by Milwaukee Braves (July 19, 1958).
  • Released by Atlanta Braves (October 7, 1983).
  • Signed by New York Yankees (January 5, 1984).
  • Granted free agency (November 12, 1985).
  • Signed by New York Yankees (January 8, 1986).
  • Released by New York Yankees (March 28, 1986).
  • Signed by Cleveland Indians (April 3, 1986).
  • Traded by Cleveland Indians to Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Darryl Landrum and a player to be named later (August 9, 1987); Cleveland Indians received Don Gordon (August 10, 1987).
  • Released by Toronto Blue Jays (August 31, 1987).
  • Signed by Atlanta Braves (September 23, 1987).

Trivia


See also

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