Phil Niekro Inducted In 1997 With 80.3 % Of The Votes
If you are a new breed Blue Jays fan, there was knuckleball life before the R.A Dickey era, as Hall of Fame knuckleball pitcher Phil Niekro was a Toronto Blue Jay, albeit for just 3 games in 1987. The Blue Jays acquired Niekro on August 9th in 1987 from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Darryl Landrum and a player to be named later (Don Gordon).
Niekro would surrender 11 runs in 12 innings pitched during 3 starts with the Blue Jays in August. On August 31st, 1987 some 22 days after acquiring Niekro, the Blue Jays would release the then 48-year-old pitcher. That wasn’t a typo, Niekro’s career spanned from age 25 to 48.
The hurler spent 24 years in the majors with 21 of those years with the Atlanta Braves amassing a 318-274 record with a 3.35 earned run average, making 716 career starts. Niekro owns the record for most wins by a knuckleball pitcher in major league history.
During his career, Niekro would accumulate over 300 innings on 4 occasions including 3 seasons where the knuckleballer made over 40 starts in a season.
Niekro was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997 with Willie Wells, Tom Lasorda, and Nellie Fox. Phil’s younger brother Joe Niekro also enjoyed a 22-year major league career as a knuckleball pitcher as well.
Authored by Clayton Richer