Notable Knuckleballers

Joe Niekro
Text: Gabriel Baumgaertner
Photo: AP

Joe Niekro

The less accomplished of the knuckleballing Niekro brothers, Joe Niekro still led the National League in wins in 1979 and won a World Series with the Twins in 1987. Over 22 seasons in the majors, Niekro enjoyed two particularly strong campaigns with the Houston Astros in 1979 and 1980. In 1979, Niekro’s 21 wins led the league and helped him finish second in the Cy Young voting;  he won 20 the next year and finished fourth. Niekro was notoriously caught with a nail file in the dugout in 1987, which earned him a suspension and a highlight on several blooper reels. He died of a brain aneurysm in 2006.

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