Braves Win Brothers' Historic Duel, 3-0

Filed under Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs
July 4, 1967

Phil Niekro of the Atlanta Braves and his brother Joe of the Chicago Cubs face each other as starting pitchers Tuesday. They pose with father Phil Sr. between them before start of game. Photo - AP Wirephoto
The Fourth of July is a celebration of America’s declaration of independence from England, but the date in Atlanta this year was a recollection of the war between brothers. Braves pitcher Phil Niekro (5-2) was faced with younger brother Joe (4-3) as Atlanta hosted the Chicago Cubs for a holiday twi-night doubleheader. But one of the 16,353 in attendance at Atlanta did not seem to mind. In fact, Phil Niekro, Sr. expanded his chest with pride. Never before had brothers started against each other, and the boys’ father made his first airplane flight – all the way from Lansing, Ohio – to see his sons make major league history. Older brother, Phil, and the Braves were the winners, 3-0 in the day tilt.

When the 22-year-old Joe was Little League age he refused to play catch in the back yard with Phil Jr. – five years his senior – unless he agreed not to throw the knuckleball. But on this afternoon, Joe could make no such stipulation. But in the third inning, Joe stepped into the batter’s box to face Phil’s knuckler. After a called first strike, Joe fouled off three knuckleballs until grounding the ball past his brother and through the infield for a base hit. The base hit was the highlight of the afternoon for the younger brother, but it will the only topic of conversation at a Niekro family dinner decades from now. Joe left after four innings, but Phil went the distance for his first major league shutout. Joe surrendered home runs to Mack Jones and Clete Boyer. Denis Menke added the final Braves tally with his third hit of the day, a RBI single.

How did the brothers feel about their historic match-up? “We had dinner at my house last night and didn’t talk much about it because we didn’t want dad to get shook up. He made his first plane trip to see us pitch and it was pretty hard on him.” said Phil. Joe agreed, “I’m sure it was rougher on Dad than us.” But Phil, Sr. beamed after the game. “I never dreamed I’d have two boys in the big league. When Joe made it, I knew this would happen sometime but I didn’t want it to come this soon. I wanted a good game for both of them,” the elder Niekro continued, “I wanted a low score duel. I wanted to see both of them win…but, of course, knew they could not.” The 54-year-old senior Niekro taught Phil, Jr. to throw the knuckleball.

7/4/1967, CHC67-ATL67, game 1, Atlanta Stadium

                       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     R  H  E   LOB DP
1967 Chicago           0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0     0  7  0     6  1
1967 Atlanta           1  1  0  0  0  1  0  0  x     3  7  0     4  1

Chicago              AB  R  H BI  D  T HR BB  K SB CS IW HP SH SF   AVG   PO  A  E PB
Popovich          ss  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .218    2  5  0  0
Beckert           2b  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .273    5  1  0  0
Williams          lf  4  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .318    1  0  0  0
Santo             3b  4  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .301    1  3  0  0
Thomas            1b  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .204   10  1  0  0
Spangler          rf  4  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .114    1  0  0  0
Hundley           c   3  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .232    3  0  0  0
Savage            cf  3  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .278    1  1  0  0
Niekro            p   1  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .333    0  0  0  0
 Stephenson       ph  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .500    0  0  0  0
 Radatz           p   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .000    0  0  0  0
 Banks            ph  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .294    0  0  0  0
 Larsen           p   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .000    0  0  0  0
                     33  0  7  0  0  0  0  0  4  0  0  0  0  0  0         24 11  0  0

Atlanta              AB  R  H BI  D  T HR BB  K SB CS IW HP SH SF   AVG   PO  A  E PB
Alou              1b  4  0  1  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .315   14  2  0  0
Jones             cf  4  1  2  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .212    1  0  0  0
Aaron             rf  4  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .276    3  0  0  0
 Francona         1b  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .250    1  0  0  0
Carty             lf  2  1  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  .268    0  0  0  0
Boyer             3b  3  1  1  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .223    1  4  0  0
Menke             ss  3  0  3  1  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .257    0  4  0  0
Woodward          2b  3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  .255    1  8  0  0
Uecker            c   3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  0  0  0  0  .202    4  0  0  0
Niekro            p   3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  .053    2  0  0  0
                     29  3  7  3  3  0  2  2  3  1  0  0  0  0  0         27 18  0  0

Chicago                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   BF HR IW HP WP DP   ERA
Niekro           L 4-3           4.0  5  2  2  1  1  62  38   18  2  0  0  0  0  4.71
Radatz                           3.0  2  1  1  1  2  52  28   10  0  0  0  0  0  4.84
Larsen                           1.0  0  0  0  0  0  13   7    3  0  0  0  0  0  0.00
                                 8.0  7  3  3  2  3 127  73   31  2  0  0  0  0

Atlanta                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   BF HR IW HP WP DP   ERA
Niekro           W 5-2           9.0  7  0  0  0  4 118  81   33  0  0  0  0  1  3.52
                                 9.0  7  0  0  0  4 118  81   33  0  0  0  0  1

CHC: Stephenson batted for Niekro in the 5th
     Banks batted for Radatz in the 8th
ATL: Alou moved to rf in the 9th
     Francona inserted at 1b in the 9th

GWRBI: Jones
Temperature: 83, Sky: clear, Wind: in from center at 2 MPH.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *