Sport: Baffling Batters with Butterflies

The Brothers Niekro are masters of the knuckler

The way the family tells the story, Phil Niekro Sr. was the first one to throw the knuckleball. He used the pitch to confound batters on the amateur baseball teams around the coal mines of Ohio and West Virginia where he worked. Later, he taught it to his elder son Phil, who by the age of eight could dig his fingertips into the ball and send it floating without spin toward the strike zone, dipping and zigzagging in the air currents. Younger Son Joe tried the pitch, but his hands were too small, so...

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