K.P. Wee, the stickler for correct statistics and other baseball details who wrote the book on knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti (yes, literally: Tom Candiotti: A Life of Knuckleballs), has now come out with Don’t Blame the Knuckleballer! Baseball Legends, Myths, and Stories.
The new book discusses Tommy Bridges, Reggie Jackson, Ted Williams, Floyd Robinson, David Giusti and other prominent non-knuckleball-specialists. But as you can tell from the title—and chapter headings—knuckleballers often get equal or top billing: “1970: Charlie Hough & Willie Stargell,” “1967: Phil Niekro & Floyd Robinson,” “1986-1991: Tom Candiotti, Don Kittle & John Shulock,” “1965: Hoyt Wilhelm & Frank Howard,” “Top Five Reasons You Can’t Blame Tom Candiotti for the Blue Jays’ ALCS Loss in 1991,” “1991 Postseason—Knuckleballing History Missed.”
The author objects to any shortchanging or misrepresenting of knuckleball achievements, or any failure to give a knuckleballer his proper due. In the introduction, for example, he chastises those who under-acknowledge the pitching prowess of knuckleballer Phil Niekro.
Phil Niekro is in the Hall of Fame but you never hear anyone talk about him being one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last half century. You hear about Gibson, Marichal, Koufax, and Dysdale as being the top pitchers of the 1960s. And then Seaver, Palmer, and Carlton in the 1970s, and Morris, Ryan, Clemens, and Gooden in the 1980s, so on. You only hear Niekro’s name when people are talking about knuckleball pitchers, not just pitchers….
Per Mr. Wee’s web site, in the course of its myth-correcting mission the book asks questions like the following:
- Did Joe Niekro really strike out the first five batters of a game in the very first inning?
- Did Phil Niekro really make Floyd Robinson silly on a strikeout?
- Did “Sunday Teddy” Lyons really pitch only on Sundays?
- How did Tom Candiotti “botch” the Jeff Kent fantasy baseball story?
- Did you know that Ted Williams had to face a knuckleballer on the next-to-last day of his historic 1941 season?
K.P. Wee says that his insistence on factual accuracy in all matters baseball has sometimes gotten him in hot water. Not at IKA. Anybody who strives to make the historical record a little more accurate in any realm of human endeavor is doing noble work in our book.