Saturday, March 24, 2012
no. 30 - phil niekro
Who is the man: Phil Niekro approached the 1971 season eager to return to his 1969 form. After pitching his first 20-win season in '69, he slumped to 12-18 in 1970. Then again, the Braves fell all the way to 5th in '70 after winning the first N.L. West title in 1969.
Can ya dig it: Photos of a young Phil Niekro are both strange and cool. I'm so used to the grizzled Knucksie.
Right on: Always dug the old pinstripe Braves uniforms.
You see this cat Niekro is a bad mother: Niekro is part of the winningest brother combination in MLB history, a 300-game winner, and a member of the Hall of Fame. But he might be "baddest" for winning 20 games and losing 20 games in the same season in 1979. You talk about stats that never may be achieved again. It's that one.
Shut your mouth: Richie Hebner said hitting Niekro was "like eating soup with a fork." Bobby Murcer said hitting Niekro was "like trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks." Ballplayers must have been hungry back then.
No one understands him but his woman: Niekro was manager of the all-female Colorado Silver Bullets baseball team in 1994, which was a novelty for both baseball fans and for him as well -- not sure what it was like being a veteran baseball player managing all women.
(A word about the back): Time to discuss the word "LIFE" on the back of each player's card in '71. From the beginning, I thought that was a dramatic, slightly alarming way to sum up a career. "Career" might have been better. "Life" sounds like a prison sentence.