Sports

Niekro, one of the great ambassadors of the Hall of Fame – MLB Sports

The man, Phil Niekro, was the opposite of the signature pitch that made him one of the legendary baseball harlers in his 24-year Hall of Fame career. His knuckleball was the most unpredictable pitch in the history of the game, and attempts to connect confused batters were totally useless.

The man, Phil Niekro, was the opposite of the signature pitch that made him one of the legendary baseball harlers in his 24-year Hall of Fame career. His knuckleball was the most unpredictable pitch in the history of the game, and attempts to connect confused batters were totally useless.

But if you ask someone who knows Niekro, they will tell you: he was stable, reliable, and could connect as easily as they came.

When Niekro died at the age of 81 On Saturday, the baseball world lost not only one of its greatest pitchers, but also one of its greatest ambassadors. Since 2009, Niekro has been a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Museum’s Board of Directors, and Cooperstown has never been so immersive.

“He wore a Hall of Fame mantle very well,” said Jeff Idelson, who has been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 2008-19, a non-profit organization dedicated to growing the game in a disadvantaged community, Grassroots Base. Co-founder of the ball. “This is a man who has won 318 games and struck out more than 3,000 times. And when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, he showed humility that he was wondering what he was doing in Cooperstown. I am.

“He soon became part of the structure and culture of the Hall of Fame. Serving in the Hall of Fame Committee, attending events, accepting members, accepting people who support the museum through members, and other Halls of Fame. The members were all part of his DNA. “

•• The numbers show Niekro’s unique HOF career

Niekro was what Idelson called a “chameleon.” In that sense, Hall of Fame should always make others feel comfortable around him. Humility was at the heart of life in the spotlight, behind one of baseball’s most famous names and linked to one of its most unique pitches.

For example, consider what happened on New Year’s Eve 1999 when Idelson was shoveling his driveway at home.

“When I hear someone come behind me, he asks me,’Is there another shovel?'” Idelson said. “It was Phil Niekro. I didn’t even know he was in town.”

Niekro was a lot in town.

“He was in Cooperstown more than any other Hall of Fame I know,” Idelson said. “To the point where I joked with him and said,’If you spend more time here, you have to start paying taxes.'”

•• Top 10 Moments of Niekro’s Career

In the history of baseball, only three have thrown more Major League innings than Niekro’s 5,404. Their names are Cy Young, Pud Galvin and Walter Johnson. The acquisition of Niekro’s knuckleball was mainly in the Braves from 1964 to 1983, leading to the MLB Best 1.87 ERA in 1967, the second place in the 1969 National League Cy Young Award race, the complete game of 245, and the strikeout of 3,342. I did. He also won five Gold Glove Awards.

But Niekro still wondered how he made it a fraternity of such a sacred icon. But when he arrived in Cooperstown, it was as if he had never left.

Niekro worked with the US Mint in 2014 to develop and implement the Hall of Fame Memorial Coin Program. This was the institution’s main fundraising activity. And he was the manager with Ozzie Smith at the annual Hall of Fame Classic. Each year, the classic features a legend during the Induction Weekend. Niekro’s team was properly called “Knucksies”.

When it comes to fans, no one could match Niekro’s dedication.

“I think there are more balls signed by Phil Niekro than balls not signed by Phil Niekro,” Idelson said.

Niekro learned how to throw a knuckleball from his father who returned from a coal mine in southeastern Ohio. And Niekro’s catcher? It was his sister, Philis. As Niekro grew up, the family was at the center of everything. So it’s no wonder he’s become such a great ambassador for the Hall of Fame family, who meet again every July to welcome new members.

Institutions like the Baseball Hall of Fame will not be as complimented as those reported to Niekro a few days before joining in 1997. He brought his hometown friend John Havlicek of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and at the Otesaga Resort Hotel, where all the Hall of Fame inducted stays for the induction weekend when they arrive, Havlicek is far away. I was enthusiastic about it.

“Havlicek just opened his mouth a little and looked forward to it, and Phil asked him,’What’s wrong,'” Idelson recalls. “And Havlicek looks at Phil and says: this It is a hall of fame. “

The Baseball Hall of Fame is revered for its management of the history of national entertainment and its presence in Cooperstown, which looks at even other sports halls of fame in awe. And the moment of Havlicek happened on Niekro’s guided weekend, which plays an important role in ensuring that it remains awe-inspiring and family-like for the next few years. Niekro’s own dedication to a venerable institution.

Niekro was as reliable as he was when he came to the mound and threw more innings than all but three pitchers in baseball history. And that credibility was brought directly to his ambassador with the Hall of Fame, which lost a huge Saturday.

“I think he will be remembered in history as one of the game’s biggest rivals,” Idelson said. “But some believe in humility, humanity, and opportunity.”

Manny Randawa A Denver-based MLB.com reporter. Follow him on Twitter. @MannyOnMLB.


– MLB Sports

Niekro, one of the great ambassadors of the Hall of Fame

https://www.mlb.com/news/phil-niekro-hall-of-fame-ambassador Niekro, one of the great ambassadors of the Hall of Fame

Back to top button