The Baseball Hall of Fame and the Atlanta Braves announced Phil Niekro died in his sleep Saturday night at age 81. The knuckleball defined Niekro during his 24-year career, most of it with the Braves. 121 of his 318 wins came after he turned 40, his 5,404 innings pitched ranks fourth in MLB history.
"Phil Niekro was on of the most distinctive and memorable pitchers of his generation," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Knucksie" authored a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in 1973. Along with brother Joe (who died in 2006), also a knuckleballer, the brothers combined to win 539 games. Off the field Niekro was recipient of the Roberto Clemente award and the Brian Piccolo award for his humanitarian efforts.