Foster: Back where he belonged: Phil Niekro’s 1-game return to the Braves in 1987

From SABR member Jason Foster at The Sporting News on September 27, 2017:

Phil Niekro was in a jam. Bases loaded, nobody out, a lead slipping away.

But that was nothing new. He’d made a living escaping such jams with a knuckleball that would dip and dive and drive hitters crazy. It was an antidote to trouble that worked more often than not over 24 years in the big leagues.

But it wasn’t working this day. Niekro was in his third uniform of the season. He hadn’t pitched in nearly a month. His 48-year-old body didn’t perform the way it once did. The baseball world knew he was finished, and he finally knew it too.

But at least he was where he wanted to be — the mound at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where he served for two decades as the ace of the Braves’ pitching staff.

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Originally published: September 28, 2017. Last Updated: September 28, 2017.