Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cards from the Old Man: Part 7

This is the seventh in a series of posts about cards I received from the old collector in our town who had library catalogs full of cards from the 1950's-1970's. You can see those original posts here and here if you missed them.
Next up on the list is a guy I had definitely heard of and one that I picked out as soon as I ran across it in the drawer. It didn't hurt that my 12 year old mind thought that "Braves" at the top actually said "BRAWES"...hey, I was 12 and not sure how to spell bra, but I did know funny. Well, I thought I did.
"It (Phil Niekro's knuckleball) actually giggles at you as it goes by." - Rick Monday
Thanks to that knuckleball, Phil Niekro had a long and remarkable career. Phil pitched for 24 seasons, 20 with Atlanta. He had 18 seasons of 30 or more starts, including 13 consecutive years. Between 1974-1980 (seven seasons), he never had less than 37 starts and had 3 years with 42 or more starts.
In case you can't read the cartoon, it says that until 1950
the hometeam had the choice of whether to bat last or not.
His career numbers are amazing. 864 games, 716 starts and a 318-274 record. Phil won 20 or more 3 times and lost 20 games twice. His 3.35 career ERA is very nice. He had 245 complete games, including 13 years with double digit complete games and 4 years of 20 or more complete games. He had 45 shutouts and pitched a whopping 5,401.1 innings. His 3,342 strikeouts earn him 11th place on the all-time list.
He didn't just pitch well, but could play his position. He won 5 Gold Gloves. He also managed to hit 7 homers and drive in 109 rbis. Ok, so he only hit .169...he was a pitcher.
Phil made two All-Star teams and unfortunately, never got the chance to pitch in the World Series. He was elected by the BBWAA to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 with 80.34% of the vote.
If anyone is actually reading these will see Phil make another appearance down the road.

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