Entering his fourth year with the Colorado Silver Bullets, Phil Niekro has something new to add to his resume - the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 14th winningest pitcher in baseball history was finally named to the Hall of Fame on January 6, 1997 by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Known as "Knucksie" for his knuckleball pitching, Niekro was the only player to be elected this year. Only one other knuckleballer in history, Hoyt Wilhelm, has been named to the Hall. Niekro learned the game of baseball and his famous pitch from his father, Phil Sr., a sandlot player in West Virginia.
Excelling in athletics in high school, Niekro signed with the Milwaukee Braves in 1959. He pitched for minor-league teams in the Braves organization in New York, Nebraska, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, Colorado, and Virginia before finally moving up to the majors full time in 1967, after the franchise had moved to Atlanta.
On October 8, 1985, Niekro recorded his 300th victory by pitching an 8-0 four-hitter for the New York Yankees against Toronto and, at age 46, also became the oldest major-league pitcher ever to hurl a shutout.
Niekro was named to four All-Star teams while an Atlanta Brave (1969, '75, '78, '82) and to one as a Yankee (1984). His career record includes 864 games pitched, 318 wins, 274 losses, 45 shutouts, 3,342 strikeouts in 5,403 innings pitched, and a 3.35 ERA. Also an excellent fielding pitcher, Niekro won five Golden Glove awards. He retired in 1987 as the oldest pitcher in the major leagues at the age of 48.
Niekro's coaching experience includes serving as pitching coach and manager for the Richmond Braves AAA franchise.
Phil and his wife, Nancy, reside in Flowery Branch, Georgia.