Phil Niekro Biography – Phil Niekro Wiki
Phil Niekro (born Philip Henry Niekro) was an American baseball pitcher. He played 24 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Milwaukee / Atlanta Braves (1964–1983, 1987), New York Yankees (1984–1985), Cleveland Indians (1986–1987), and Toronto Blue Jays (1987).
Born April 1, 1939 in Blaine, Ohio, Niekro was taught the knuckler by his father. He emerged from Ohio coal mine country as a conventional pitching prospect, signing with the Braves in 1958. Niekro ascended through the Braves’ minor league system. His success eventually forced the team to take a chance on a knuckleballer as a starting pitcher. By 1967, Niekro was one of the top pitchers in the game, leading the NL that year with an ERA of 1.87.
Following a 23-13 season in 1969 that firmly established him as one of baseball’s best, Niekro consistently piled up innings and perplexed batters. By his late 30s Niekro became an absolute workhorse – averaging 335 innings a season from 1977 through 1979 and becoming the last pitcher to post back-to-back seasons of at least 300 innings pitched.
He won 121 games after turning 40, and retired with 318 victories over the course of 5,404 innings – the fourth-most all-time and the most of any pitcher whose career started in the live ball era.
For his humanitarian service, Niekro was honored with the Lou Gehrig Award, Roberto Clemente Award and Brian Piccolo Award. Following his baseball career, he managed the Colorado Silver Bullets, an all-women baseball team in the late 1990s. Niekro was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 and served on the Museum’s Board of Directors since 2009.
Phil Niekro Age
Phil Niekro was born on April 1, 1939, in Blaine, Ohio. He died on December 26, 2020. He was 81.
Phil Niekro Wife
Phil Niekro was married to his wife Nancy Niekro.
Phil Niekro Children
Phil Niekro and his wife, Nancy Niekro, have three children, Philip, John and Michael.
Phil Niekro Family
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons Philip, John and Michael, and two grandchildren, Chase and Emma. He was preceded in death by his younger brother Joe Niekro, who suffered a fatal brain aneurysm in 2006.
Phil Niekro Brother
Phil Niekro’s younger brother, Joe Niekro, also had a long baseball career with an arsenal that included the knuckleball. He won 221 games over 22 years in the big leagues, making the Niekros baseball’s winningest set of siblings, with a total of 539 victories, just ahead of Gaylord and Jim Perry. Joe died in 2006 at the age of 61.
Phil Niekro Death
Phil Niekro died on December 26, 2020, in his sleep after a long battle with cancer, the Atlanta Braves and the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced. He was 81. The Braves said in a statement: “We are heartbroken on the passing of our treasured friend. 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.
“He was a constant presence over the years, in our clubhouse, our alumni activities, and throughout Braves Country and we will forever be grateful for having him be such an important part of our organization. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Nancy, sons Philip, John, and Michael and his two grandchildren Chase and Emma.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement: “Phil Niekro was one of the most distinctive and memorable pitchers of his generation. In the last century, no pitcher threw more than Phil’s 5,404 innings. His knuckleball led him to five All-Star selections, three 20-win seasons for the Atlanta Braves, the 300-win club, and ultimately, to Cooperstown.
“But even more than his signature pitch and trademark durability, Phil will be remembered as one of our game’s most genial people. He always represented his sport extraordinarily well, and he will be deeply missed. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Phil’s family, friends and the many fans he earned throughout his life in our National Pastime.”
Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement: “Phil Niekro’s record on the field ranks him as one of the game’s finest pitchers. As a mentor, leader and friend, Phil brought out the best in all of us in Cooperstown. Over more than a decade of serving as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame, his wisdom, his compassion, and his love for the game proved to be invaluable in helping us shape our decisions. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to Nancy Niekro and the Niekro family.”
Dale Murphy, who won the first of two straight NL MVP awards during Atlanta’s magical 1982 season, was among those who mourned Niekro’s death. Murphy tweeted: “Knucksie was one of a kind. Friend, teammate, father and husband. Our hearts go out to Nancy Niekro, the kids and grandkids. So thankful for our memories and time together. We’ll miss you, Knucksie.”
Niekro was the seventh member of Cooperstown to die in 2020, following Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, and Tom Seaver. It is the most Hall of Famers to die in a calendar year, according to spokesman Jon Shestakofsky.
Phil Niekro Cause of Death
Phil Niekro’s cause of death was cancer.
Phil Niekro Cancer
He had been diagnosed with cancer.
Phil Niekro Net Worth
Phil Niekro’s net worth was estimated to be $5 million.