Thick McRunfast

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Member Since:   11/28/2018
Last Login:   5/12/2022
Points:   636
From:   New York
     
Collection:   30,671 cards
     

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My goals: I'm trying to complete a few sets from the 1980s and early 1990s. Please have a look at my goals list for details.

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About me: I blog about trading cards and also create and sell custom cards and other sports-related items. If that piques your interest, please have a look at the following sites:

 

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2018 - Favorite Thread


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Niekro Brothers

Imagine this situation:
 
You're an aspiring young pitcher from Ohio who makes it to the big leagues in 1964. You don't get many starts those first couple of years, but by 1967 two pretty cool things happen: You get a whole lot of starts for the Atlanta Braves and pitch rather well (11 W, 9 L, 1.87 ERA), and your little brother Joe, also a pitcher, makes it to the majors with the Chicago Cubs.

The boosts you get from those events really set you off. Over the next 10 years you pitch to a winning record almost every season, and gain the nickname "Knucksie" around the baseball world for the baffling knuckleball you've developed.

During that same time period, however, little brother Joe struggles a bit. He bounces from Chicago to San Diego to Detroit, and just can't seem to get it going. He doesn't start a whole lot of games, and doesn't turn many heads despite a good fastball and slider.

Then, after three teams in six seasons he's on the move again. In 1973 he's claimed off waivers by...

...the Atlanta Braves.

You'd be together on a major league roster!

And during this time, little brother Joe would start working the knuckleball into his repertoire, too. (Your dad taught the pitch to both of you back home in Ohio.) It didn't quite pay off during his stay in Atlanta, but soon he'd be heading over to Houston, and that knuckleball would start to pay dividends.
 
Here are the two brothers around that time, captured on some good looking-cardboard.
 
 
1976 Topps #273 Joe Niekro and #435 Phil Niekro
 
 
In 1979, a few short years after those cards were released, you and little bro would have career years. In fact, you'd find yourselves in a race to see who would win 20 games first.
 
With Houston, little brother Joe would streak out to a record of 13–3 by the first week of July, while you'd be middling at 11–10 with Atlanta. Joe would stay relatively hot into September, hitting the 20-win mark on the 22nd against Cincinnati, giving him a record of 20–10. You, on the other hand, would stay in that middling state, trading wins and losses pretty regularly and reaching a record of 19–20 on the same day with a win against San Francisco.

Your team still had another 10 games to go before the season ended, and you'd have your first shot at 20 wins on September 26th, a home game. And guess what?
 
The game was against the Houston Astros.
 
And guess what else?
 
Little brother Joe was their scheduled starter! 
 
It would be Niekro vs. Niekro. Would you and your team beat up on little bro, giving you 20 wins? Or would little brother hit 21 wins and leave you at 19, with only one more start in the season to hit 20?
 
You pitch well to start the game, allowing only 2 hits over the first 4 innings. The Astros take one off you in the 5th inning to make it a 4-1 score (Joe only lasted 2.1 innings, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits), but in the bottom of the same inning your guys put up 3 runs of their own, and then add another 2 runs in the 6th to make the score 9-1. With the comfortable lead, you keep pitching well. You allow 1 more run in the 8th to make it 9-2, and then 2 runs in the 9th with 2 outs, but then you close the deal for the complete game victory. The final score is 9-4, and you have win number 20!
 
I wonder if both brothers had a little moment to celebrate after the game.
 
Here are career totals for both brothers. Pedro Martinez

 

 

CAREER TOTALS

 

 

JOE

(22 seasons)

PHIL

(24 seasons)

WINS

221

318

LOSSES

204

274

ERA

3.59

3.35

STRIKEOUTS

1747

3342

WALKS

1262

1809

SHUTOUTS

29

45

COMPLETE GAMES

107

245

INNINGS PITCHED

3584.1

5404.0

 
 
Phil was a 5x all-star and 5x Gold Glove Award winner, was the ERA leader in 1967 with a 1.87, and racked up 3,000+ career strikeouts. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He took the mound for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, Yankees, Indians, and Blue Jays.
 
Joe was a 1x all-star and was a World Series champion with Minnesota in 1987. He pitched for the Cubs, Padres, Tigers, Braves, Astros, Yankees, and Twins.
 
Also of note, both brothers held their own at the plate. Have a look at these numbers:
 
Phil: 1537 AB, 260 H, 42 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 109 RBI, .169/.183/.211
 
Joe: 865 AB, 132 H, 21 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 72 RBI, .156/.188/.188
 
 
So here's to the knuckleballing Niekros. Lots of wins, strikeouts, wild pitches, passed balls, and a great 20-win season for both of them in 1979.


  

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