Maybe it’s because I am so New York-centric when it comes to baseball, but when I heard that Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro died this past week at 81 years old, my first thought was of him as a Yankee.
I know, the beloved “Knucksie” was best known for pitching 21 of his 24 big league seasons with the Milwaukee / Atlanta Braves, but he posted two very good seasons for the Yankees in 1984-85. Winning 16 games twice; 32-20 with a 3.59 ERA in 435.2 innings, he was the team’s ace in 1984, and was a solid No. 2 behind Ron Guidry in 1985.
In his last game as a Yankee, Niekro tossed a four-hit shutout against the Blue Jays in Toronto, and famously did not throw a single knuckleball in the victory, the 300th of his career.