Hall of Fame Knuckleballer Phil Niekro Dies At 81

By Bill Galluccio

December 27, 2020

Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro passed away at the age of 81 following a lengthy battle with cancer. Niekro played in the Major Leagues until he was 48-years-old, notching 318 wins in 24 seasons. Niekro was known for his nasty knuckleball, which left hitters baffled in the box.

Niekro amassed 3,342 strikeouts and was one of the most reliable and durable pitchers in Major League history. He ranks fourth all-time with 5,404 innings pitched and had 245 complete games. He managed to win 121 games after he turned 40, which is a Major League record.

Niekro was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

"We are heartbroken on the passing of our treasured friend, Phil Niekro," the Braves said in a statement. "Knucksie was woven into the Braves fabric, first in Milwaukee and then in Atlanta. Phil baffled batters on the field and later was always the first to join in our community activities. It was during those community and fan activities where he would communicate with fans as if they were long lost friends."

Niekro is the seventh Hall of Famer to die this year, including Lou BrockWhitey Ford, Bob GibsonAl KalineJoe Morgan, and Tom Seaver.

Photo: Getty Images

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