New York Mets: Jim Bouton

Niekro on 'Knuckleball,' knuckleballs

April, 12, 2012

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Phil Niekro and R.A. Dickey will be featured in the soon-to-be-screened documentary "Knuckleball."
On April 21, the documentary “Knuckleball,” which features R.A. Dickey and past knuckleballers, will be available to view at a free screening at Battery Park City.

Tim Wakefield, Jim Bouton and Dickey will be on hand for a pitching clinic beginning at 6 p.m. At 8:15 p.m., the Tribeca Film Festival-included movie will be screened.

Dickey -- who faces Cliff Lee in Friday’s series opener in Philadelphia -- in November gathered with fellow knuckleballers Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough and Wakefield for camaraderie and to film part of the documentary at Lake Lanier resort outside of Atlanta.

“It was great. We got to know each other a little bit better, played a little golf. He can hit a golf ball a long way. I know that,” Niekro said about Dickey. “I’m really looking forward to the documentary coming out, because we all got interviewed for about a half-hour or 45 minutes. And no one really knows what everybody else said. It will be interesting to see how we all have different ideas about the knuckleball, how we threw it and stuff like that.”

The 73-year-old Niekro recalled Dickey driving from Nashville to visit him for an offseason knuckleball tutorial a few offseasons ago. They worked indoors at a local batting cage. The ex-Yankee Niekro, who still stops by Atlanta Braves spring training, said he particularly enjoys engaging those who already have a feel for the pitch, as opposed to novices.

“Especially those that have a pretty good idea what they’re doing and they may just need a little polish on it, or something like that,” he said. “The tough ones are the guys that just say, ‘Teach me how to throw a knuckleball.’ ‘You’ve got a couple of years?’ I really get interested in the guys that want to do it when they make a commitment.”

Niekro came to watch Dickey pitch at Turner Field last season. Dickey lost 1-0 to Tim Hudson in that Sept. 17 game against the Braves.

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