Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Happy Birthday dear Phi-il

We're all desperate for a sense of community right now. The state of the world has really thrown a giant monkey wrench into everything, to say the least.

I participate in Blog Bat-Arounds only infrequently, but I think now is a good time to let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking. Well, not kicking that much. Because the kickboxing gym I've been going to since 2017 is currently closed. But that's a different story.

To join the April Fools' Day activity that Matt at Diamond Jesters kicked off, let me take this opportunity to wish a happy 81st birthday to legend Phil Niekro.

If you ever doubted how out of hand things got during the overproduction era, one lone blogger basically said, "everyone find your stash of 1988 Score and post the Phil Niekro card today". And many, many of us had no trouble doing just that, myself included.

Which is basically how viruses spread. But that, too, is a different story.

1988 Score #555 Phil Niekro
Number 83 on Joe Posnanski's The Baseball 100 list, Niekro is a Hall-of-Fame knuckleballer. This being a Score set, I expected to see the lengthy paragraph on the card back that early Score cards are known for. But that's not what you'll find here. Rather, flip it over to see Niekro's complete career statistics, twenty-four years starting way back in 1964. Curiously, that year is closer to the 1918 flu pandemic than it is to today.

On this card back, you'll find 318 wins, 3,342 strikeouts, and a whopping 5,403.2 innings pitched, good for 4th all time, and the most in the live-ball era. Baseball-Reference has that innings count at an even 5,404, finding an extra out somewhere in 1981.

Google launched Gmail on this day in 2004 with a then-gigantic 1 GB of free storage. That was in a time when Yahoo was offering four entire megabytes. The scan of this Niekro card alone is a quarter of that. But other than that historic product launch, I'm not much of a fan of April Fools' Day. It's been a lot of deception and satire since then. That's the last thing we need more of. Of all the things we're missing right now, April Fools' Day pranks are not something I'm mourning.

My sister isn't a big fan of it, either. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl on Monday, her second, and expressed relief that the little one didn't arrive on April 1st. If she had, she would have shared a birthday with Phil Niekro and two current Rockies. On March 30th she instead gets Chris Sale and a couple players from the 2017 Astros. My nephew, nearing the age of three, shares a birthday with one of my favorite catchers, Salvador Pérez.

We may not have any baseball right now, but a Blog Bat-Around and wishing an old player a happy birthday seems like a nice change of pace.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home.


  1. Congrats on the birth of your niece - I also share that birthday!

  2. Thanks to Matt... I've learned a lot of cool stuff about Niekro today. Now I just need to sift through all of the trivia to see what is fact versus what is fiction.

  3. Congrats Uncle Adam! I hope your sis and niece remain healthy and thrive! My sis was born on the 30th...several years ago. Great day all around! You be well too!