Hall of Famer Phil Niekro spent three weeks in a Blue Jays uniform
In his 24th and final season in the majors, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro spent three weeks in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.
Yesterday, we learned of the unfortunate passing of Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro after the knuckleballer lost his battle with cancer. Niekro spent 21 seasons with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves before short stints with the Yankees, Indians and Blue Jays.
On the 09th of August, 1987 the Blue Jays acquired Niekro from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Darryl Landrum and a player to be named later who eventually turned out to be Don Gordon. The knuckleballer would only make three starts for Toronto before the club released him just three weeks later on August 31st.
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1st Start: 10-3 Loss to Chicago White Sox
Niekro would toss 5.2 innings surrendering three runs over five hits while fanning and walking three. The knuckleballer whiffed Donnie Hill swinging on a high fastball for his first strike out as a Blue Jay, however, Hill would later take Niekro deep for a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
The homer would open the flood gates and Jeff Musselman and Tom Henke would be touched up for seven runs following Niekro’s departure enroute to a 10-3 loss.
2nd Start: 3-1 Loss to California Angels
In his second start, Niekro would once again allow three runs over 5.2 innings of work. Devon White and Tony Armas would hit round trippers off the wily veteran who again fanned three batters in the contest. The 48-year old would take the loss in a 3-1 defeat.
3rd Start: 6-5 Loss to Oakland Athletics
It wasn’t pretty as Niekro did not escape the first inning surrendering five runs including a three-run homer to Carney Lansford. John Cerutti would relieve Niekro tossing six scoreless innings but it was enough as Toronto lost 6-5.
Two days later, Niekro was given his walking papers finishing with an 0-2 record and an 8.25 earned run average in 12 innings with the Blue Jays.
Thoughts and prayers go out the the entire Niekro family as they mourn not only the loss of a Hall of Fame talent but a Hall of Fame human being. RIP Phil.