Joe Niekro

Joe Niekro
Born: (1944-11-07)November 7, 1944
Martins Ferry, Ohio
Died: October 27, 2006(2006-10-27) (aged 61)
Tampa, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1967, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
April 29, 1988, for the Minnesota Twins
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 221–204
Earned run average 3.59
Strikeouts 1,747
Career highlights and awards

Joseph Franklin "Joe" Niekro (November 7, 1944 – October 27, 2006) was an American Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He was the younger brother of pitcher Phil Niekro, and the father of Minor League Baseball pitcher and first baseman Lance Niekro. Born and grew up in Martins Ferry, Ohio,[1] Niekro attended Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio and attended West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia. During a 22-year baseball career, he pitched from 1967–1988 for seven different teams, primarily for the Houston Astros.


Niekro pitched for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers with occasional success before joining Phil with the Atlanta Braves in 1973. Joe used a fastball and a slider early in his career, with mixed results. He spent two seasons in Atlanta with Phil and got re-acquainted with the knuckleball that their father taught them. The knuckleball became an essential part of his arsenal though never his sole pitch. Joe threw harder than Phil and could set up batters nearly as effectively with his fastball in combination with his excellent changeup.

The Houston Astros purchased Niekro's contract from the Braves for $35,000 in 1975. He blossomed into a dominant pitcher as he perfected his knuckleball in Houston, going 21–11 in 1979 and 20–12 in 1980, to become the first Astros pitcher to win 20 games in consecutive seasons. He also made the National League All-Star team in 1979, a season in which he led the league with his 21 wins and five shutouts, won the TSN Pitcher of the Year Award, and ended second in voting for the Cy Young Award behind Bruce Sutter. 1979 also saw the Niekro brothers tie for the wins leader in Major League Baseball, marking this the only year that two brothers shared this honor.

In 1980, Houston had a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, then lost their last three games of the regular season in Los Angeles, to force a one-game playoff. Niekro allowed six hits in a 7–1 Houston victory that propelled the Astros to their first postseason. He then pitched 10 shutout innings in Game 3 of the NLCS and the Astros won, 1–0, though they lost the series to the Philadelphia Phillies, 3–2.

In September 1985, Houston traded the 40-year-old Niekro to the New York Yankees, where he briefly reunited again with Phil.[2] Niekro finished his career with the Minnesota Twins, where he pitched in the World Series for the only time, in 1987. Earlier that season, Niekro had been suspended for ten games when umpire Tim Tschida discovered a nail file in his pocket during a game against the California Angels. When Tschida told Niekro to empty his pockets, Niekro reached into his pockets, pulled out his hands and threw them in the air. The emery board and a piece of sandpaper flew out of his pocket and fluttered to the ground. The video of this made a lot of sports-highlight shows and is a common "blooper" clip today. Niekro said he was filing his nails in the dugout, but American League president Dr. Bobby Brown did not believe him, and ordered the suspension. Niekro was eventually released by the Twins shortly into the second month of the 1988 season and subsequently retired.

Joe Niekro Foundation

On October 26, 2006, Niekro suffered a brain aneurysm and was taken to South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City, Florida. He was later transferred to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida, where he died the following day at age 61. The Joe Niekro Foundation, created by his daughter Natalie, is committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of Brain Aneurysms, AVMs and Hemorrhagic Strokes. The non-profit organization provides education on the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while funding the advancement of neurological research.

Statistics and records


See also


External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/8/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.