As the year draws to a close and we reflect on all the major moments of 2020, one thing that will stick out to a lot of baseball fans is just how many Hall of Famers we lost over the past year.
And this weekend, famed Braves knuckleballer Phil Niekro became the seventh Hall of Famer lost this year. Niekro, who was 81, passed following a battle with cancer, and leaves behind a tremendous pitching legacy as one of the most unique pitchers of all time. He was a five-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, and had an unbelievable 24-season career.
Phil Niekro, aka “Knucksie”, was an absolute legend on the mound. pic.twitter.com/bIfij29zzk— MLB (@MLB) December 27, 2020
In an oddly timed post, MLB’s official Twitter had posted this just the day before Niekro’s passing, and aired a special remembering the first six Hall of Famers who passed this year: Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, and Joe Morgan.
It has, without a doubt, been a very difficult year for Hall of Famers and baseball fans alike.
- Mark Bowman remembers Niekro for MLB.
- Sports Illustrated re-shared this 1969 piece on how Niekro’s knuckleball was driving batters crazy.
- MLB brings us an All-Holiday team.
- Todd Dybas wanted to know what Max Scherzer’s reaction to the big Blake Snell pull in Game Six was.
- When will the 2021 MLB season begin? No one can know for sure, but Jeff Passan has some ideas.
- Matt Snyder airs some MLB grievances for Festivus this year.
- If Francisco Lindor is being dealt by Cleveland this winter, Mike Oz wonders which team is capable of making that blockbuster move.
- On a similar note, Jayson Stark wonders how many games we’ll actually see played next season. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- What do the Jays need to focus on to take them to the next level? According to Tony Wolfe, they need to focus on pitching in a serious way.
- Michael Clair brings us the weirdest uniforms in baseball history, and I will die on a hill defending the Rays’ fauxback unis.
- Joe Posnanski’s “just missed” Hall of Fame series takes a look at John Donaldson. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Christmas might be over, but Mike Axisa still has a holiday wish list for all 30 MLB teams.
- What does Kim Ng’s hire mean for girls who play baseball? Jesse Dougherty explores the reverberations of the hire.
- Keith Law takes a look at six players who made quite the splash during the shortened 2021 season. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Buster Olney thinks the Giants could have a massive offseason... next year.
- Let’s wrap this up with something positive as Rick Cumby shares an incredible video of his son opening a new bat for Christmas.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.