1976 SSPC: Phil & Joe Niekro, Tony Perez

Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro was only 37 in 1976.  For anyone else, that would come across as trying to be funny, but Phil was still over a decade from throwing his last knuckleball.

Phil went 17-11 with a 3.29 ERA… and that’s for a Braves team that lost 92 games.  According to baseball-reference.com, he was the last active player who had been born in the 1930’s, the last active player to have played for the Milwaukee Braves, and the last pitcher to win 20 and lose 20 in the same season.  In that 1979 season, Phil Niekro went 21-20 and lead the league in games started (44), complete games (23) and innings pitched (342.0).

For what it’s worth, when I got this Phil Niekro card off of COMC, it completed my Braves team set.  The only other complete team set I have from 1976 SSPC is the Orioles, and I bought that as a team set on eBay (The original lot I bought had no Orioles in it).

Phil’s brother Joe was only 31 in 1976, and went 4-8, 3.36 for his Astros team.  In that same 1979 season where Phil Niekro went 21-20, Joe went 21-11.  I’d have to think that’s a record for wins by brothers and decisions by brothers in a single season, but you never know.

I never knew that Joe Niekro was a first-year Padre.  He started 1969 with the Cubs, and appeared on his 1969 Topps card as a Cub.  On April 26th, 1969, he was traded to the Padres in a deal for Dick Selma.  That December, the Padres traded him to the Tigers, and it is as a capless Tiger that he’s shown on his 1970 Topps card.

Hall-of-Famer Tony Perez didn’t win 20 games at any point, and never played for the Padres, but he was an All-Star in 1976 and helped The Big Red Machine become World Champions in 1976 before being traded to Montreal for 1977.

I love the composition of this photo… it’s not unusual to see a player fake-swinging with the end of the bat up in the camera, but fake-bunting?  It’s not something one sees often.

Shea-o-meter:
All three are at Shea.
Shea: 72
Pretty sure it’s Shea: 13
Can’t tell: 20
Not Shea: 9

1970’s Census: Keeping track of all the instances of 1970’s trends
The Niekro Brothers have the sideburns going for them.
Total Cards: 113
1970’s Sideburns: 65
Fu Manchu: 4
Mustache other than Fu Manchu: 36
Afro: 2
Perm: 2
Aviators: 8
Long Hair: 27

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9 thoughts on “1976 SSPC: Phil & Joe Niekro, Tony Perez

  1. In 1934 the Dean brothers, pitching for the Cardinals, combined for 49 wins but according to Baseball Almanac the Niekros are the only brothers to lead a league in wins in the same season (not surprising).

  2. Sadly TP was traded to Montreal along with Will McEnany for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. That was the beginning of the end of the Big Red Machine. They finished second to the Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. I’m sure Doggie might have made a difference over his replacement Danny Driessen.

    He would later return to the Reds and was on the team when Pete Rose broke the hit record. He was also a coach for the 1990 wire-to-wire Reds World Championship team. Class act, true gentleman and a clutch player.

  3. “Hall-of-Famer Tony Perez didn’t win 20 games at any point, and never played for the Padres”

    The hell he didn’t! He was 1964 PCL MVP with San Diego. Yeah, not MLB, but a hungry Padre fan like myself can find some pride in it.

  4. I did not check any Baseball Record Books, but I would think that the only competition the Niekro’s or the Dean Brothers might get would be from the Perry boys, Gaylord and Jim. I believe that in 1970, Jim won the AL Cy Young with 24 wins and Gaylord earned 22 or 23 wins in the NL. You could look it up…

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