Philip Henry Niekro (pronounced NEE-kro) (born April 1, 1939), nicknamed "Knucksie", is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. He played 24 seasons in the majors, 20 of them with the Milwaukee / Atlanta Braves. Niekro's 318 career victories are the most by a knuckleball pitcher and ranks 16th on the overall all-time wins list. He won the National League (NL) Gold Glove Award five times, was selected for five All-Star teams, and led the league in victories twice and earned run average once. Niekro was also a key to the only two division titles Atlanta won before 1991.
Phil and his brother Joe Niekro amassed 539 wins between them, the most combined wins by brothers in baseball history, and Phil's 121 career victories after the age of 40 is a major league record. His longevity is attributed to the knuckleball, which is a difficult pitch to master but is easy on the arm and often baffles hitters due to its unpredictable trajectory.
Niekro was the last MLB pitcher to have both won and lost 20 or more games in the same season. With the 1979 Braves, Niekro finished with 21 wins and 20 losses. This was his third and final 20-win season and his second and final 20-loss season. That season, Phil and Joe Niekro were National League co-leaders in wins.
Niekro signing an autograph in 1982
|Born: April 1, 1939|
|April 15, 1964, for the Milwaukee Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 1987, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Earned run average||3.35|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||80.34% (fifth ballot)|
Niekro was born in Blaine, Ohio, and grew up in Lansing, Ohio.  He attended Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio, and was a boyhood friend of Basketball Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek. The baseball field on which he played at Bridgeport High School's Perkins Field athletic complex was renamed "The Niekro Diamond" in 2008 after both Phil and his brother, fellow major league pitcher Joe Niekro. The brothers were the sons of a coal miner who had pitched semipro baseball and had learned to throw a knuckleball from another coal miner. He later taught his sons the pitch in their backyard while they were kids. In addition, Phil played American Legion Baseball growing up.
Niekro was signed to the Milwaukee Braves by scout Bill Maughn in 1959 for $250. He pitched for minor league teams at several levels for the next few years, appearing mostly as a relief pitcher. While he was briefly promoted to the Class AAA Louisville Colonels in 1960, he spent the entire next season with the Class AA Austin Senators. He returned to Louisville in 1962 and recorded a 9-6 win-loss record. He missed the 1963 season due to military service.
Niekro debuted with the Milwaukee Braves in 1964, working 15 major league innings and spending time with the team's class AAA minor league affiliate. He stayed with the major league team all year in 1965, appearing in 74 2⁄3 innings in 41 games and recording six saves.
Niekro led the league with a 1.87 ERA in 1967, earning an 11-9 record with 10 complete games and 9 saves. He had begun the year as a relief pitcher but had earned a job in the starting rotation during the season.
Before the 1968 season, sportswriter Fred Down described the Braves' pitching staff as "chaotic" and reported that team leadership was planning to use Niekro as both a starter and a reliever in the coming season. He appeared in 37 games, finishing with a 14-12 record and 15 complete games. He appeared in relief three times, earning two saves.
In 1969, his first All-Star season, he had a 23–13 season with a 2.56 ERA, finishing second in Cy Young balloting to Tom Seaver. The Braves went to the playoffs, where Niekro was 0-1 with four earned runs allowed in an eight-inning appearance against the New York Mets. Niekro's playoff loss came against Seaver. The team was eliminated from the playoffs after losing the next two games.
From 1971-1973, he combined for a record of 44-36. The Braves finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th in their division respectively. On August 5, 1973, Niekro threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. The no-hitter was the first for the Braves after moving to Atlanta.
In 1974, Niekro led the league in several pitching categories, including wins (20), complete games (18), and innings pitched (302.1). He finished third in the voting for the Cy Young Award that year.
From 1975-1976, he went 15-15 and 17-11 respectively while making a second All-Star appearance in 1975.
Between 1977 and 1979, Niekro was the league leader in complete games, innings pitched and batters faced. In 1979, the 40-year-old Niekro led the league in both wins (21) and losses (20). He finished sixth in Cy Young Award voting in both 1978 and 1979, and made his third All-Star appearance in 1978, as well as winning three consecutive gold glove awards from 1978-1980.
From 1980-1981, he went 15-18 and 7-7 respectively while leading the league in games started (38) and losses (18) in 1980.
In 1982, at the age of 43, Niekro led the team with a 17–4 season while winning his fourth gold glove and appearing in his fourth All-Star game. On October 1, with the Braves clinging to a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Niekro beat the San Diego Padres almost single-handedly by throwing a complete game shutout and hitting a two-run home run. Niekro started Game One of the subsequent NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched well, but the game was called on account of rain just before it became official. He pitched six innings of Game Two and left with a 3–2 lead. However, the Cardinals scored two late runs after Niekro left the game and would eventually sweep the series.
In 1983, he went 11-10 and won his fifth gold glove. After the season, the Braves released him.
|Phil Niekro's number 35 was retired by the Atlanta Braves in 1984.|
In 1984, he signed with the New York Yankees. He went on to win 16 games and make his fifth and final All-Star appearance.
On October 6, 1985, Niekro gained entry into the 300 win club with a shutout win over the Toronto Blue Jays. At 46 years, 188 days, Niekro became the oldest pitcher to pitch a shutout in the major leagues. This record stood for nearly 25 years before Jamie Moyer (47 years, 170 days) bested the feat in May 2010. He did not throw his trademark knuckleball throughout the game until the final hitter, former AL MVP Jeff Burroughs. Prior to facing Burroughs, Niekro's teammate and brother Joe visited the mound in the role of "substitute pitching coach" and jokingly suggested that an intentional walk was in order. Instead, Niekro struck Burroughs out to end the game. He finished the 1985 season with a 16-12 record, the final time he won 15 or more games in a single season. He was released by the Yankees before the 1986 season started.
After two seasons in New York, Niekro pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 1986. He went 11-11 in 32 starts.
He started the 1987 season with the Indians, going 7-11 in 26 starts.
On August 9, 1987, Niekro was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Darryl Landrum and a player to be named later, who was later revealed to be Don Gordon. After going 0-2 in 3 starts, the Blue Jays released him.
On September 23, 1987, Niekro signed with the Atlanta Braves. On September 27, he made his final start of his career, going 3 innings and surrendering 5 runs in the no-decision. The Braves lost the game against the Giants 15-6. Niekro retired at the end of the season.
At the age of 48, Niekro was the oldest player in major league history to play regularly until Julio Franco played at age 49 in 2007. He set a major league record by playing 24 seasons in the major leagues without a World Series appearance. His total of 5,404⅓ innings pitched is the most by any pitcher in the post-1920 live-ball era. He only appeared in the postseason twice, making a playoff start in 1969 and again in 1982, both for Braves teams that lost the series.
His pitching featured the knuckleball, which frustrated major league hitters. Ralph Kiner compared Niekro's special pitch to "watching Mario Andretti park a car." Pete Rose said, "I work for three weeks to get my swing down pat and Phil messes it up in one night... Trying to hit that thing is a miserable way to make a living." Catcher Bob Uecker was also frustrated by the pitch at times, saying, "Niekro struck out a hitter once and I never touched the ball. It hit me in the shinguard, bounced out to Clete Boyer at third base and he threw out the runner at first. Talk about a weird assist: 2-5-3 on a strikeout."
After the end of his professional baseball career, Niekro managed the all-women Colorado Silver Bullets baseball team. Niekro tutored his nephew, Lance Niekro, to throw a knuckleball after Lance's unsuccessful stints as a power-hitting first base prospect with the San Francisco Giants.
Niekro was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997, his fifth year of eligibility. He was the only player elected that year; Tony Pérez and Don Sutton were among the notable players who were not elected. After he was notified, Niekro said, "Giving a description of today's phone call is impossible. I've been stunned before. I just didn't prepare myself this year. I was not going to get myself so high." The year before, Niekro had received the most Hall of Fame votes out of all the players in the ballot, but had not received the required 75 percent of votes for election.
Niekro is a member of the Kiz Toys Board of Advisors. Kiz Toys is a toy company based out of Cumming, Georgia, and Niekro advises the company on the KizSport baseball line, reviewing product designs and development on an ongoing basis and offering suggestions on current and future products.
The Gwinnett Braves' stadium has a restaurant named Niekros after him; it features the Knucksie Sandwich made of barbecue and cole slaw atop a corn muffin, said to be his favorite. Phil and his family have continued to support the students of Bridgeport High School with the proceeds from the annual golf tournament "The Niekro Classic".
| No-hitter pitcher
August 5, 1973
The 1967 Philadelphia Phillies season consisted of the Phillies' 82–80 finish, good for fifth place in the National League, 19½ games behind the NL and World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies would not finish above .500 again until 1975.1978 Atlanta Braves season
The 1978 Atlanta Braves season was the 108th season for the franchise and their 13th in Atlanta.1979 Atlanta Braves season
The 1979 Atlanta Braves season was the 109th season for the franchise and their 14th in Atlanta.1980 Atlanta Braves season
The 1980 Atlanta Braves season was the 15th season in Atlanta along with the 110th season as a franchise overall.1987 Cleveland Indians season
The Cleveland Indians finished in seventh place in the American League East. Sports Illustrated magazine predicted that the Indians would finish in first. Club president Peter Bavasi would resign before the regular season began. Bavasi had joined the Indians in November 1984. As president of the Cleveland Indians, he served on Major League Baseball's Executive Council. During the 1986 season, the team had an 84-78 record, its best since 1968, and attendance of 1.47 million, its highest since 1959. There was a lot of optimism that the team would reach its full potential in 1987.
Sluggers Joe Carter and Cory Snyder were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated on April 6, 1987, with the headline "Indian Uprising". The Indians were being predicted as the best team in baseball on the back of their two 30+ home run hitters. What sports writers overlooked was that Cleveland had the worst performing pitching staff in the majors, despite the presence of 300 game winners Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton, as well as Tom Candiotti (with Niekro and Candiotti, Cleveland had two starters whose main pitch was the Knuckleball).
The 1987 Indians would fall well short of SI's bold prediction. They were not above .500 even once all season, and an 8-20 May ended any realistic hope of contention. They finished 61-101, the worst record in all of baseball. The season would go on to be associated with the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.1997 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1997 followed the system in use since 1995.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and
elected Phil Niekro.
The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions and selected three people from multiple classified ballots:
Nellie Fox, Tommy Lasorda, and Willie Wells.3,000 strikeout club
In Major League Baseball (MLB), the 3,000 strikeout club is the group of pitchers who have struck out 3,000 or more batters in their careers. Walter Johnson was the first to reach 3,000, doing so in 1923, and was the only pitcher at this milestone for 50 years until Bob Gibson recorded his 3,000th strikeout in 1974. In total, 17 pitchers have reached 3,000 strikeouts, with CC Sabathia, the most recent club member, joining on April 30, 2019. Sabathia joins Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson as the only left-handed pitchers in this group. Randy was the quickest pitcher to 3,000 strikeouts, taking fewer games pitched or innings pitched than any other pitcher. César Gerónimo is the only player struck out by two different pitchers for their 3,000th strikeout, first by Gibson in 1974 and then Nolan Ryan in 1980. The Minnesota Twins were the first of three franchises to see multiple pitchers record their 3,000th strikeout on their roster, first Walter Johnson (while the franchise was called the Washington Senators) in 1923 and then Bert Blyleven in 1986. The Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees are the others with Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux for the Cubs, and Phil Niekro and Sabathia for the Yankees. Ten 3,000 strikeout pitchers are also members of the 300 win club. Seven pitchers from this club were named amongst the one hundred greatest players in MLB history as part of the All-Century Team, four of whom were eventually voted as starters for the team by fan vote.Membership in the 3,000 strikeout club is often described as a guarantee of eventual entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez, and John Smoltz are the most recently elected individuals, all voted in during 2015 balloting. Of the sixteen eligible members of the 3,000 strikeout club, fourteen have been elected to the Hall. The two who have appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot but have not yet been elected, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, both made their first appearances on the ballot for the 2013 elections. Each received only about half of the total votes needed for induction, with Schilling earning slightly more votes than Clemens. Clemens' future election is seen as uncertain because of his alleged links to use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The current and near-future eligibility of many players linked to PED use, combined with voting restrictions in Hall of Fame balloting, has been cited as the source of a "backlog" in future Hall elections. Eligibility requires that a player has "been retired five seasons" or deceased for at least 6 months.300 win club
In Major League Baseball, the 300 win club is the group of pitchers who have won 300 or more games. Twenty-four pitchers have reached this milestone. The New York Gothams/Giants/San Francisco Giants are the only franchise to see three players reach the milestone while on their roster: those players are Mickey Welch, Christy Mathewson, and Randy Johnson. Early in the history of professional baseball, many of the rules favored the pitcher over the batter; the distance pitchers threw to home plate was shorter than today, and pitchers were able to use foreign substances to alter the direction of the ball. The first player to win 300 games was Pud Galvin in 1888. Seven pitchers recorded all or the majority of their career wins in the 19th century: Galvin, Cy Young, Kid Nichols, Tim Keefe, John Clarkson, Charley Radbourn, and Mickey Welch. Four more pitchers joined the club in the first quarter of the 20th century: Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Eddie Plank, and Grover Cleveland Alexander. Young is the all-time leader in wins with 511, a mark that is considered unbreakable. If a modern-day pitcher won 20 games per season for 25 seasons, he would still be 11 games short of Young's mark.
Only three pitchers, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, and Early Wynn, joined the 300 win club between 1924 and 1982, which may be explained by a number of factors: the abolition of the spitball, World War II military service, such as Bob Feller's, and the growing importance of the home run in the game. As the home run became commonplace, the physical and mental demands on pitchers dramatically increased, which led to the use of a four-man starting rotation. Between 1982 and 1990, the 300 win club gained six members: Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton and Tom Seaver. These pitchers benefited from the increased use of specialized relief pitchers, an expanded strike zone, and new stadiums, including Shea Stadium, Dodger Stadium and the Astrodome, that were pitcher's parks, which suppressed offensive production. Also, the increasing sophistication of training methods and sports medicine, such as Tommy John surgery, allowed players to maintain a high competitive level for a longer time. Randy Johnson, for example, won more games in his 40s than he did in his 20s.Since 1990, only four pitchers have joined the 300 win club: Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Johnson. Changes in the game in the last decade of the 20th century have made attaining 300 career wins difficult, perhaps more so than during the mid 20th century. The four-man starting rotation has given way to a five-man rotation, which gives starting pitchers fewer chances to pick up wins. No pitcher reached 20 wins in a non strike-shortened year for the first time in 2006; this was repeated in 2009 and 2017.Recording 300 career wins has been seen as a guaranteed admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All pitchers with 300 wins have been elected to the Hall of Fame except for Clemens, who received only half of the vote total needed for induction in his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013 and lost votes from that total in 2014. Clemens' future election is seen as uncertain because of his alleged links to use of performance-enhancing drugs. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a player must have "been retired five seasons" or deceased for at least six months, Many observers expect the club to gain few, if any, members in the foreseeable future. Ten members of the 300 win club are also members of the 3,000 strikeout club.Atlanta Braves award winners and league leaders
This is a list of award winners and league leaders for the Atlanta Braves professional baseball franchise, including its years in Boston (1871–1952) and Milwaukee (1953–1965).Bill Laskey
William Alan Laskey (born December 20, 1957) is a former professional baseball player who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1982 to 1986 and in 1988. He played collegiately for one season at Kent State University in 1978 after graduating from Toledo Woodward High School in 1975. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 2nd round of the 1978 amateur draft (June Secondary).
In 1982, Laskey was selected to the All-Star Game but was persuaded by Tommy Lasorda to relinquish his roster spot to make room for a soon-to-retire Phil Niekro as a gesture. Niekro went on to pitch seven more years, and Laskey was never selected for another All-Star Game. Laskey has said he "never should have trusted Tommy Lasorda."Joe Niekro
Joseph Franklin Niekro (November 7, 1944 – October 27, 2006) was an American Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He was the younger brother of pitcher Phil Niekro, and the father of Major League pitcher and first baseman Lance Niekro. Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Niekro attended Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio and attended West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia. During a 22-year baseball career, he pitched from 1967–1988 for seven different teams, primarily for the Houston Astros.Knuckleball
A knuckleball or knuckler is a baseball pitch thrown to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, causing an erratic, unpredictable motion. The air flow over a seam of the ball causes the ball to transition from laminar to turbulent flow. This transition adds a deflecting force on the side of the baseball. This makes the pitch difficult for batters to hit, but also difficult for pitchers to control and catchers to catch; umpires are challenged as well, as the ball's irregular motion through the air makes it harder to call balls and strikes. A pitcher who throws knuckleballs is known as a knuckleballer.Lance Niekro
Lance William Niekro (born January 29, 1979) is a former Major League Baseball player. Niekro played one full season and parts of three others for the San Francisco Giants between 2003 and 2007. After his playing career concluded, he served as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College and then was elevated to the head coach position on May 9, 2012. He is the nephew of former MLB pitcher Phil Niekro and son of former MLB pitcher Joe Niekro.List of Atlanta Braves Opening Day starting pitchers
The Atlanta Braves are a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise based in Atlanta. They play in the National League East division. They were based in Milwaukee and Boston before moving to Atlanta for the 1966 season. The first game of the new baseball season for a team is played on Opening Day, and being named the Opening Day starter is an honor, which is often given to the player who is expected to lead the pitching staff that season, though there are various strategic reasons why a team's best pitcher might not start on Opening Day. The Atlanta Braves have used 19 different Opening Day starting pitchers in their 47 seasons in Atlanta. The 19 starters have a combined Opening Day record of 14 wins, 20 losses and 13 no decisions. No decisions are only awarded to the starting pitcher if the game is won or lost after the starting pitcher has left the game.Hall of Famer Phil Niekro holds the Atlanta Braves' record for most Opening Day starts, with eight. He has a record in Opening Day starts for the Braves of no wins and six losses with two no decisions. Greg Maddux had seven Opening Day starts for the team and Rick Mahler had five. Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have each made four Opening Day starts for the Braves. Maddux has the record for most wins in Atlanta Braves Opening Day starts, with five. Mahler has the highest winning percentage in Opening Day starts (1.000), with four wins and no losses with one no decision. All of Mahler's four victories were shutouts, including three in consecutive years (1985 to 1987) by identical scores of 6–0. Niekro has the record for most losses in Atlanta Braves Opening Day starts, with six.From 1972 through 1980, the Braves lost nine consecutive Opening Day games. In those games, their starting pitchers had a record of no wins, six losses and three no decisions. Niekro had five of the losses during this streak, and Carl Morton had the other. Morton, Gary Gentry and Andy Messersmith had no decisions during the streak. One of the most famous Opening Day games in baseball history occurred during this stretch. That was the game on April 4, 1974, against the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium, when Hank Aaron hit his 714th career home run to tie Babe Ruth's all-time record. Carl Morton was Atlanta's starting pitcher for that game, and received a no decision.Overall, Atlanta Braves Opening Day starting pitchers have a record of 4–5 with four no decisions at Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium, their original home ball park in Atlanta and a 3–3 record with three no decisions at their second home park in Atlanta, Turner Field. The Braves have yet to open a season at their current home of SunTrust Park, which opened for the 2017 season; the first regular-season game at SunTrust Park was the Braves' ninth of the 2017 season. This gives the Atlanta Braves' Opening Day starting pitchers a combined home record 7–8 with five no decisions. Their away record is 7–12 with eight no decisions. The Braves went on to play in the World Series in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999, and won the 1995 World Series championship games. John Smoltz was the Opening Day starting pitcher in 1991, Tom Glavine in 1992 and 1999, and Greg Maddux in 1995 and 1996. They had a combined Opening Day record of 3–2 in years that the Atlanta Braves played in the World Series.List of Atlanta Braves team records
The Atlanta Braves are a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise based in Atlanta. The Braves formed in 1876 as the Boston Red Stockings. After moving to Milwaukee for 12 years, the Braves relocated to Atlanta in 1966. Through 2010, the Braves have played 20,053 games, winning 9,945, losing 9,954, and tying 154, for a winning percentage of approximately .500. This list documents the superlative records and accomplishments of team members during their tenures in MLB.
Hank Aaron holds the most franchise records as of the end of the 2010 season, with ten, including most career hits, doubles, and the best career on-base plus slugging percentage. Aaron also held the career home runs record from April 8, 1974 until August 8, 2007. He is followed by Hugh Duffy, who holds eight records, including best single-season batting average and the best single-season slugging percentage record.Four Braves players currently hold Major League Baseball records. Duffy holds the best single-season batting average record, accumulating an average of .440 in 1890. Bob Horner and Bobby Lowe are tied with 13 others for the most home runs in a game, with four, which they recorded on May 30, 1890, and July 6, 1986, respectively. Red Barrett, a Brave for six years, holds the record for fewest pitches by a single pitcher in a complete game, with 58, which he achieved on August 10, 1944.List of Major League Baseball career games started leaders
In baseball statistics, a pitcher is credited with a game started (denoted by GS) if he is the first pitcher to pitch for his team in a game.
Cy Young holds the Major League Baseball games started record with 815; Nolan Ryan is second with 773. Young is the only pitcher in MLB history to start more than 800 career games. Nolan Ryan (773), Don Sutton (756), Greg Maddux (740), Phil Niekro (716), Steve Carlton (709), Roger Clemens (707), and Tommy John (700) are the only other pitches to have started 700 or more games their career.List of knuckleball pitchers
Knuckleball pitchers are baseball players who rely on the knuckleball as their primary pitch, or pitch primarily based on their ability to throw a knuckleball. The inventor of the knuckleball has never been established, although several pitchers from the early 20th century have been credited. Baseball statistician and historian Rob Neyer named four individuals in an article he wrote in the 2004 book The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers as potentially deserving credit, any of whom may have originated the pitch in either the 1907 or 1908 seasons. Nap Rucker of the Brooklyn Dodgers came up to the majors in 1907, initially throwing hard stuff but later switching to the knuckleball. A 1908 article credited Lew Moren as the inventor of the pitch. Ed Cicotte earned a full-time spot with the Detroit Tigers in 1908, earning the nickname "Knuckles" for his signature pitch. A picture of Ed Summers showed him gripping what he called a "dry spitter" using a variation of the knuckleball grip using the knuckles of his index and middle fingers.Unlike almost every other pitch in baseball, the knuckleball's erratic trajectory has often required teams to use dedicated catchers, often using specialized mitts, to field the deliveries. Clint Courtney used a specially constructed catcher's mitt, about 50% larger than the conventional mitts used at the time, to catch knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm during a game in May 1960. Umpire Al Smith credited the use of the glove with preventing three or four passed balls in that one game. The lower velocity of the knuckleball is credited with giving some who use it the ability to pitch more often and to sustain pitching careers far longer than those who rely on their fastball to get outs. Tim Wakefield pitched on consecutive days, when most starting pitchers in the 21st century throw after four days of rest. Hoyt Wilhelm pitched until he was almost 50 and Phil Niekro used the pitch until he was 48. Wakefield retired at 45.
The prevalence of the knuckleballer has varied over time. The 1945 Washington Senators finished 1½ games out of first place with a starting pitching staff that almost exclusively used the pitch, with four knuckleballers in the rotation. That season, the team's three catchers — regular catcher Rick Ferrell and backups Al Evans and Mike Guerra — combined for 40 passed balls, more than double that of any other team in the league.Baseball funnyman Bob Uecker, who was Phil Niekro's personal catcher with the Braves in 1967, has been quoted as saying "The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling, then go pick it up."Wilbur Wood, Joe Niekro, and R.A. Dickey have won The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award. In 2012, Dickey became the only knuckleballer to have won the Cy Young Award. Phil Niekro is the only knuckleball pitcher to win 300 games.Major League Baseball titles streaks
At the end of each Major League Baseball season, the league leaders of various statistical categories are announced. Leading the league in a particular category is referred to as a title.
The following lists describe which players held, or at least shared, the title for a particular category three or more seasons in a row. Streaks of three years or more are shown for each league. Players listed under MLB led both the AL and NL in those years, or had a sufficient total in a given category to lead the major leagues without leading either league (for example, Mark McGwire's 58 homers in 1997 were the most in MLB, but he led neither league because he was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals in midseason). Active streaks are highlighted.Roberto Clemente Award
The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media. It is named for Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente. Originally known as the Commissioner's Award, it has been presented by the MLB since 1971. In 1973, the award was renamed after Clemente following his death in a plane crash while delivering supplies to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.Each year, a panel of baseball dignitaries selects one player from among 30 nominees, one from each club. Teams choose their nominee during the regular season, and the winner is announced at the World Series. The player who receives the most votes online via MLB's official website, MLB.com, gets one vote in addition to the votes cast by the panel. Since 2007, the Roberto Clemente Award has been presented by Chevy. Chevy donates money and a Chevy vehicle to the recipient's charity of choice and additional money is donated by Chevy to the Roberto Clemente Sports City, a non-profit organization in Carolina, Puerto Rico, that provides recreational sports activities for children. Chevy donates additional funds to the charity of choice of each of the 30 club nominees.The first recipient of the award was Willie Mays, and the most recent honoree is Yadier Molina. No player has received the award more than once. The first pitcher to receive the award was Phil Niekro in 1980, and the first catcher to receive it was Gary Carter in 1989. To date, Clemente's former teammate Willie Stargell and Andrew McCutchen are the only members of the Pittsburgh Pirates to receive the honor. Stargell won his award in 1974, and McCutchen in 2015. The Pirates themselves have worn Clemente-era throwback uniforms in recent years on Roberto Clemente Day, on which day they present their award nominee to MLB. In 2014, the award was presented to two players—Paul Konerko and Jimmy Rollins—for the first, and to date only, time.
|J. G. Taylor Spink Award|
|Ford C. Frick Award|
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.
|Inductees in Yankees cap|
|Inductees who played|
for the Yankees