Niekro Fluttering Through July

Filed under Atlanta Braves
July 21, 1967

Phil Niekro has arrived. The knuckeballer has not allowed an earned run in three July starts. After Niekro had pitched the Braves to a 5-1 win over the Pirates, Braves’ trainer Harvey Stone was rubbing down the pitcher’s arm the next day and mentioned Niekro could probably pitch again that night. “No he couldn’t either,” said Braves’ Vice President Paul Richards. “Why not?” Richards was asked. “He needs more rest?” “Naw,” said Richards, “but (Bob) Uecker does. Every time Phil pitches, Uecker is the one who needs four days’ rest.”

Uecker, of course, is the catcher who was obtained from the Phillies earlier this season for Gene Oliver for the sole purpose of catching Niekro’s knuckler. “He’s the best,” said Niekro. “He hangs onto that knuckler better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

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