|July 10, 1986, Chicago Tribune by writer Ed Sherman. Actual Wording - "Maybe Phil Niekro will pitch forever. or has he already pitched forever. The 47-year-old phenomenon continued to fool time - and the White Sox - by leading the Cleveland Indians to a 6-3 victory Wednesday. Phil Niekro (6-6) earned his 306th career triumph in front of 19,409 fans at Comiskey Park. Niekro beat the Sox by throwing a pitch that should be timed with a clock, not a radar gun. At times Phil Niekro seemed to be pulling the ball back to him. If the pitch were a car driving on the highway, it would be pulled over for going too slow. Niekro's fastest knuckler couldn't have been traveling more than 50 miles an hour. Then for kicks, he mixed in a blooper, or eephus pitch, which made the knuckler look fast. |
"The key is getting the knuckler over and get them swinging," said Phil Niekro, who gave up three runs in the fourth. "If I can't get it over, then I'm in big trouble. Today I got it over, and they had to swing at it." The Sox swung and missed. They swung and hit weak grounders or harmless pop-ups to the outfield. If they did hit the ball hard, it usually went foul.
"It's almost unfair when it goes that slow," said Sox center-fielder Steve Lyons. "He threw me that eephus pitch in the eight. I took three strides, swung and I still pulled it foul. When he's going that good, he's tough to beat." "Later in the game, he started throwing that lollipop pitch," said DH Jerry Harriston. "He'd throw it eight feet up, and then it would drop for a strike. He seemed to like it. A couple of times he had to contain himself from laughing." Carlton Fisk, sidelined by the flu, watched the old guy beat the Sox from the dugout, but he's not sure how Niekro did it. "It's hard to believe a guy like that can throw so slow and still get everyone out," said Fisk. "Take for instance, a fastball pitcher who normally throws in the low 90's. If he's little off, throwing in the high 80's, he's going to be given his lunch. Then you've got a guy throwing the ball 47 miles an hour, and guy's can't touch him. It makes you wonder." Baseballhistorian.com archives