On Sunday, the Atlanta Braves made a press release announcing the passing of Phil Niekro, who died in his sleep after a long battle with cancer.
The Atlanta Braves announced their former player's death in a statement on Sunday. The team expressed heartbreak in Niekro's passing, saying it will always be grateful for having him as a pivotal member of its organization.
Hall of Fame pitcher, Phil Niekro, on July 27, 2013 | Photo: Chris Evans, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
The team also condoled with Niekro's wife, Nancy, his sons, Philip, John, Michael, and his grandchildren, Chase and Emma. Niekro played in the majors for 24 years.
21 of those 24 years were spent with the Atlanta Braves. In that time, he was instrumental to the team winning their first division title since their relocation from Milwaukee.
Phil Niekro signing an autograph in 1982 | Photo: Jim Accordino,CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
He was renowned for his trademark knuckleball and pitched the Atlanta Braves' 12th no-hitter in 1973. Due to Niekro's exploits, the team retired his jersey (No. 34) in 1984.
After leaving the Atlanta Braves, Niekro had a brief stint with the New York Yankees before playing for the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays.
His former teammate, Dale Murphy, described him as one of a kind and expressed gratitude for the memories they shared
He retired from the game at the age of 48. On September 27, 1987, he rejoined the Braves to play his final game. He was also inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
During his playing career, Niekro was a 5-time All-Star and a 5-time Gold Glove winner. He is the fourth-ranked player in baseball history in innings pitched.
Many of Niekro's friends have paid tribute to him. His former teammate, Dale Murphy, described him as one of a kind and expressed gratitude for the memories they shared.
The Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Jane Forbes Clark described Niekro as a mentor, leader, and friend, adding that his wisdom, compassion, and love for baseball proved invaluable in helping them make decisions.
In place of flowers, Niekro's family has asked for any donations to be made to the Edmondson Telford Child Advocacy Center. May his soul rest in peace.
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