Phil Niekro Passes Away

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Photo courtesy of New York Daily News

Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro has died at the age of 81 after a battle with cancer, the Atlanta Braves announced on Sunday.

“Knucksie” played twenty-four seasons in MLB, twenty with the Braves. Niekro debuted in 1964 with the Milwaukee Braves & made the move with the franchise to Atlanta, where he would remain until 1983. He spent the next three years with the Yankees, Indians, & Blue Jays. He then finished up his career in 1987 with the Atlanta Braves.

During Niekro’s illustrious career he racked up five Gold Glove Awards (1978-1980, 1982, 1983), was a five-time All-Star (1969, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1984), the 1980 Roberto Clemente Award recipient, a two-time National League Wins Leader (1974 & 1979), 1967 MLB ERA Leader, 1977 National League Strikeout Leader, & he pitched a no-hitter on August 5th, 1973. His No. 35 is retired by the Atlanta Braves & is a member of the Braves Hall of Fame.

In 1997 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 80.34% of the vote. He was the only player elected in 1997.

Phil and his younger brother Joe Niekro tallied 539 wins between them, the most combined wins by brothers in baseball history. Phil’s 121 career victories after the age of 40 is a major league record. Niekro remains the last MLB pitcher to have both won and lost 20 or more games in the same season, accomplishing that feat in 1979.

On Sunday, Niekro passed away in his sleep, per reports. He had been diagnosed with cancer.

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