FAVORITE BRAVES PLAYERS OF THE 1980'S
#5 PHIL NIEKRO
ATLANTA BRAVES 1966-1983, 1987
|1983 TOPPS Phil Niekro|
Phil Niekro was the one player who was with the Braves while I was growing up that just seemed to always be on the team. And most of those teams weren't very good. The 80's started up like the 70's with Phil leading the league in losses for the fourth straight year in 1980. He only won seven games during the strike shortened 1981 season. Then in 1982, he put together one of his best seasons, going 17-4 and leading the league in winning percentage at the age of forty-three. His 1980's highlight is easy for me. During the stretch run to the division title in 1982, Niekro pitched against the Padres on October 1, 1982 during the final series of the season. He pitched brilliantly, throwing a three-hit shutout. But the best part is when he came to bat in the eight leading 1-0 and the willy veteran slugged a mighty two-run homer off of Eric Show sealing the victory. I still remember being at the neighborhood pub and everyone standing and cheering after Phil's shot.
Phil was released (prematurely) after the next season only to come back and be an all-star in the American league and notch his 300th victory as a member of the evil Yankees.
Phil came back to the Braves for a farewell pitching appearance in 1987.
He went into the Hall of Fame as a Brave in 1997.
|1988 Score card commemorates|
Phil's last major league appearance