Aug. 3, 1987: That time Joe Niekro tried to hide evidence of cheating, then got busted

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Say it ain't so, Joe."Itain't so," Joe said Orlando Cepeda Jersey .Well, though the truth is up for debate, it's a funny story either way.MORE: MLB power rankings: 13 teams primed for OctoberOn this day in 1987, Twins knuckleballer Joe Niekro was ejected after umpires determined he was trying to scuff balls, presumablyto give his signature pitch a bit more movement. That's the short version. The longversion is much more entertaining.Watch this. Hmmm. Just casually to sing away an emery board, like, "Ho hum. Nothing to see here?"That's, shall we say, compelling evidence. Not a good look for Mr. Niekro, but certainly compelling television.Notice Niekro's body language before, during and after the to s. It's entertaining in itself.Body language, pre to s: [angry]"You guys, there's nothing here! Look, I'm searching my pockets. See? I'm not doing anything wrong."Body language, during to s [nervous] : "Let's just throw this little thing off to the side, out of sight. Nailed it."Body language, after to s[as umpire notices flying emery board]: "Well, I do have this one thing."At this point, everyone the umpires, the fans, and probably Niekro's teammates had one thought: Busted.But despite the video, and perhaps despitecommon sense,Niekro denied that he was scuffing the ball. He said he always kept an emery board in his pocket to keep his nails in proper shape for a better grip on theknuckleball (P.S. He also had sandpaper). The league found that a flimsy excuse and suspended him for 10 games.But Niekro was a good sport about the whole thing, later going on "Late Night With David Letterman" to poke fun at the situation while wearing a tool belt complete with anelectric sander andvarious other nefarious, could-scuff-a-ball items. Watch: In the clip, as one would expect, Niekro continues to defend himself, explaining how it https://www.cardinalsedge.com/st-louis-cardinals/lance-lynn-jersey 's perfectly normal for a knuckleball pitcher to carry around an emery board or sandpaper, even while on the mound. But even giving Niekro the benefit of the doubt, the whole thing was highly suspicious, amplified by his casual let's-get-rid-of-the-evidenceto sing of the emery board (his explanation for the to s waspretty weak).Naturally, Letterman was humorously skeptical throughout the interview."So you're telling me that you did not doctor the ball that night?" Letterman says."Do I look like a doctor?" Niekro responds.Hmmm.MORE: Robot umps wouldn't be saviors on balls and strikesNiekro served his suspension and returned to the Twins just in time for Minnesota's stretch run. He finished the season 7-13 with a 5.33 ERA.But all ended well in '87for Niekro and the Twins, who defeated the Cardinals in the World Series. Niekro pitchedtwo shutout innings in relief in Game 4,presumably with nothing in his pocket. He appeared in five games in 1988 before calling it a career.Lest the 1987 emery board incident define Niekro to younger fans, it should be noted that he enjoyed along and succe sful career, winning 221 games over 22 seasons including two 20-win seasons and an All-Star appearance in 1979 and accumulating 29.9 career bWAR.He even hit a home https://www.cardinalsedge.com/st-louis-cardinals/bob-gibson-jersey run once off his brother, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro.And, like his brother, Niekro was quite the character.I didn't send him a Christmas card for a few years (after the home run), but I really mi s that guy," Phil Niekro said of his brother, who died in 2006."I want people to remember Joe as a hell of a guy who was full of fun and life. If you didn't have a good time around him, it was your own fault.

Say it ain’t so, Joe.”Itain’t so,” Joe said Orlando Cepeda Jersey .Well, though the truth is up for debate, it’s a funny story either way.MORE: MLB power rankings: 13 teams primed for OctoberOn this day in 1987, Twins knuckleballer Joe Niekro was ejected after umpires determined he was trying to scuff balls, presumablyto give his signature pitch a bit more movement. That’s the short version. The longversion is much more entertaining.Watch this. Hmmm. Just casually to sing away an emery board, like, “Ho hum. Nothing to see here?”That’s, shall we say, compelling evidence. Not a good look for Mr. Niekro, but certainly compelling television.Notice Niekro’s body language before, during and after the to s. It’s entertaining in itself.Body language, pre to s: [angry]”You guys, there’s nothing here! Look, I’m searching my pockets. See? I’m not doing anything wrong.”Body language, during to s [nervous] : “Let’s just throw this little thing off to the side, out of sight. Nailed it.”Body language, after to s[as umpire notices flying emery board]: “Well, I do have this one thing.”At this point, everyone the umpires, the fans, and probably Niekro’s teammates had one thought: Busted.But despite the video, and perhaps despitecommon sense,Niekro denied that he was scuffing the ball. He said he always kept an emery board in his pocket to keep his nails in proper shape for a better grip on theknuckleball (P.S. He also had sandpaper). The league found that a flimsy excuse and suspended him for 10 games.But Niekro was a good sport about the whole thing, later going on “Late Night With David Letterman” to poke fun at the situation while wearing a tool belt complete with anelectric sander andvarious other nefarious, could-scuff-a-ball items. Watch: In the clip, as one would expect, Niekro continues to defend himself, explaining how it https://www.cardinalsedge.com/st-louis-cardinals/lance-lynn-jersey ‘s perfectly normal for a knuckleball pitcher to carry around an emery board or sandpaper, even while on the mound. But even giving Niekro the benefit of the doubt, the whole thing was highly suspicious, amplified by his casual let’s-get-rid-of-the-evidenceto sing of the emery board (his explanation for the to s waspretty weak).Naturally, Letterman was humorously skeptical throughout the interview.”So you’re telling me that you did not doctor the ball that night?” Letterman says.”Do I look like a doctor?” Niekro responds.Hmmm.MORE: Robot umps wouldn’t be saviors on balls and strikesNiekro served his suspension and returned to the Twins just in time for Minnesota’s stretch run. He finished the season 7-13 with a 5.33 ERA.But all ended well in ’87for Niekro and the Twins, who defeated the Cardinals in the World Series. Niekro pitchedtwo shutout innings in relief in Game 4,presumably with nothing in his pocket. He appeared in five games in 1988 before calling it a career.Lest the 1987 emery board incident define Niekro to younger fans, it should be noted that he enjoyed along and succe sful career, winning 221 games over 22 seasons including two 20-win seasons and an All-Star appearance in 1979 and accumulating 29.9 career bWAR.He even hit a home https://www.cardinalsedge.com/st-louis-cardinals/bob-gibson-jersey run once off his brother, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro.And, like his brother, Niekro was quite the character.I didn’t send him a Christmas card for a few years (after the home run), but I really mi s that guy,” Phil Niekro said of his brother, who died in 2006.”I want people to remember Joe as a hell of a guy who was full of fun and life. If you didn’t have a good time around him, it was your own fault.

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