Philip Henry Niekro (born April 1, 1939), nicknamed “Knucksie“…. is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher….who played 24 seasons in the majors….with 20 of them with the Milwaukee / Atlanta Braves…..whose 318 career victories are the most by a knuckleball pitcher….and ranks 16th on the overall all-time wins list. Knucksie won the National League (NL) Gold Glove Award five times….was selected for five All-Star teams….who led the league in victories twice….and earned run average once. Niekro was also a key to the only two division titles Atlanta won before 1991.
Phil and his brother Joe Niekro amassed 539 wins between them….which is the most combined wins by brothers in baseball history….and Phil’s 121 career victories after the age of 40 is a major league record. His longevity is attributed to the knuckleball….which is a difficult pitch to master….but it is easy on the arm….and often baffles hitters due to its unpredictable trajectory. Phil Niekro was the last MLB pitcher to have both won and lost 20 or more games in the same season…..when with the 1979 Braves, he finished with 21 wins and 20 losses….which was his third and final 20-win season….and his second and final 20-loss season. That season, Phil and Joe Niekro were National League co-leaders in wins.