The Dodgers were about to take batting practice when reserve catcher Jm Campanis spotted Phil Niekro, the Braves’ top relief pitcher. “Hey, Phil,” shouted Campanis. “I see you got a catcher traded. That’s the first time I ever heard of that.” Niekro grinned. “Yeah,” he said, “but I kept asking for you and they wouldn’t traded for you.” “Oh no you don’t,” said Campanis. “Don’t do that to me.” Both players laughed and went their separate ways.
Campanis wasn’t being facetious. The Braves did trade reserve catchers with the Phillies in an attempt to land someone who can handle a knuckleball. “The deal was made,” said Braves’ Vice President Paul Richards, “so we would have someone to handle Niekro’s elusive dancer.” When Uecker arrived, however, he didn’t seem too sure he was the man, but the affable major league veteran was willing to give it a shot. “I’ve caught some pretty good ones,” he said. “When I was with the Cardinals, we had Barney Schultz, and he could throw a good knuckleball. I’ve also caught Bobby Tiefenauer, and he had a real good knuckler. But I haven’t had to catch one for the past couple of seasons, so I don’t know how I will be.”