On this day in 1939 Phil Niekro was born in Blaine, Ohio. The Milwaukee Braves signed him as an amateur free agent in 1958 and, after four+ years in the minors and a year in the military, he made his major league debut for them in 1964. Niekro appeared in 51 games (all but one in relief) during the Braves' final two years in Milwaukee before following the team to Atlanta.
The best years of Niekro's career came in Atlanta, as he mastered the knuckleball, made five All Star appearances, won four Gold Gloves and received votes for Cy Young five times. He finished his career with 318 wins.
It's also worth noting, though, that Niekro pitched forever. Despite not making his major league debut until his age 25 season he pitched 24 years in the big leagues. When he retired following the 1987 season he was the last former Milwaukee Brave to do so. At that point the Braves had already been in Atlanta for 22 years.
Niekro turns 73 today. With help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd also like to wish a happy birthday today to: