Baseball Hall of Famer, knuckleballer Phil Niekro dies at 81

By PAUL NEWBERRY AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) — Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro has died at the age of 81 after a long fight with cancer.

Niekro pitched well into his 40s with a knuckleball that baffled big league hitters for more than two decades, mostly with the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves announced his death, saying he died Saturday night in his sleep.

Niekro won 318 games over his 24-year career, which ended in 1987 at age 48 after he made one final start with the Braves.

Niekro also pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays late in his career.

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