Niekro a Hall of Famer despite dreadful stint with Jays

It’s safe to say that Phil Niekro was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in spite of his performance as a Toronto Blue Jay. Enshrined in 1997, the ageless knuckleballer won 318 big league games, was selected to five all-star teams and won five Gold Gloves during his 24-year career.

“Trying to hit him (Niekro) is like trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks,” Bobby Murcer once lamented.

While pitching for the Cleveland Indians on July 31, 1987, Niekro had held the Jays to three hits and one run over six innings. Ten days later, Toronto general manager Pat Gillick swung a deal for the venerable veteran. With Charlie Moore catching his knuckler, Niekro made his Jays debut against the Chicago White Sox on August 13, 1987. He would allow three earned runs in 5-2/3 innings in a Jays’ 10-3 loss.

His pitching line was similar in his start against Anaheim eight days later. The crafty right-hander again permitted three runs over 5-2/3 innings in a 3-1 loss. His last start with the Jays was disastrous. With Ernie Whitt catching and his team battling the A’s at Exhibition Stadium on August 29, Niekro was shelled for five earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning. This thumping – which left his Jays record at 0-2 with a 8.25 ERA – earned him his release on August 31.

“Knucksie” was signed by the Braves in September and made one final big league start on September 26. Pitching in Atlanta, where he had achieved the bulk of his big league success, provided a fitting end to his Hall of Fame career.

Advertisements

One thought on “Niekro a Hall of Famer despite dreadful stint with Jays

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s