“He was the greatest. There’s not an adjective or word to describe how special he was and what he meant to not only the Braves organization but anyone who was around him, he made you feel like you were the only hall of famer in the building. That is something that he will always be known for is the way he made you smile, the way he made you feel, it’s sad. Because he doesn’t get any better. He’s one of those guys that you would never know he was a Hall of Famer and he treated you like a Hall of Famer.
“You just don’t hear many people if any ever say anything bad about him. I’ve never heard anybody say they didn’t like Knucksie. That says a lot. when you’re an athlete or celebrity to some extent, there will inevitably be people who don’t like you for whatever reason, even though they don’t know you. But you never heard that about Knucksie. Everybody loved him.”
“One of the nicest guys I’ve ever been around. I missing sitting in Bill Acree’s office hearing his stories.”
“What I really liked about him, was when I was a minor league coach and he was in the big leagues and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, he treated me like he’d known me all his life and I was just as important as a minor league coach as a big league coach. He always made you feel comfortable around him. He was a superstar but you would have never known it.”
“When I made it to big leagues he was so happy that I was there. It was amazing because he saw me for the first time in the minor leagues and he was calling me by my first name. I was like ‘How does he know my name?’ He sees me and says hi in front of people and that made me feel important. I will never forget him.”
“So sad today. Phil Neikro helped me in a profound way to change the course of my career and life. I was perpetually moved by his kindness, wisdom, and sense of humor. What a man! He will be missed. Thank you Phil!”
“RIP my friend.”
“Nancy and I are deeply saddened by the news today of the passing of Phil Niekro. Knucksie was one of a kind. Friend, teammate, father and husband. Our hearts go out to Nancy Niekro, the kids and grandkids. So thankful for our memories and time together. We’ll miss you, Knucksie.”
“Phil Niekro was one of the most distinctive and memorable pitchers of his generation. In the last century, no pitcher threw more than Phil’s 5,404 innings. His knuckleball led him to five All-Star selections, three 20-win seasons for the Atlanta Braves, the 300-win club, and ultimately, to Cooperstown.
“But even more than his signature pitch and trademark durability, Phil will be remembered as one of our game’s most genial people. He always represented his sport extraordinarily well, and he will be deeply missed. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Phil’s family, friends and the many fans he earned throughout his life in our national pastime.”
– Statement from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred