Today in Tribe History: April 1, 1939

1939 – Future Hall of Famer and knuckleball extraordinaire Phil Niekro is born in Blaine, Ohio.

Niekro entered the professional baseball circuit with the Milwaukee Braves. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1958, he made his debut in 1964 at the age of 25 and spent his first three seasons working in relief with the club. In 1967, he split his time as a starter and finished the season with a league-best 1.87 ERA. He remained in the Braves organization through the 1983 season, winning 20 games or more three different times and making four different National League All-Star teams.

He spent the 1984 and 1985 seasons in New York with the Yankees, making the ‘€™84 All-Star team at the age of 45. He signed with the Cleveland Indians for the 1986 season and went 11-11 with a 4.32 ERA in 34 games and was 7-11 with a 5.89 ERA in 22 starts in 1987 when the team traded him in August to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of players. He was released before the end of the month and returned to Atlanta, where he pitched in one final game for the Braves at the age of 48 and in his 21st different season with the organization.

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