Mark Bradley: Phil Niekro, 1939-2020: The one and only Knucksie

There were knuckleballers before him and knuckleballers after, but only one practitioner of the game’s most arcane pitch was known, both in his heyday and in perpetuity, as Knucksie. No other knuckleballer won 318 games. Only three others — Hoyt Wilhelm, of whom you’ve heard, plus Jesse Haines and Ted Lyon, of whom you probably haven’t — are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Phil Niekro threw, now and surely forever, the best of all knuckleballs. (His brother Joe had a good one, but not as good.) He did it for 24 big-league seasons, beginning as a Milwaukee Brave and then, when the franchise move…

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