The New York Mets' R.A. Dickey has restored luster to one of the toughest pitches to hit: the knuckleball. Here's a list of the five best pitchers to use the knuckleball exclusively:
5. Tim Wakefield » The ex-Boston pitcher's stats aren't gaudy, partly because he played in the steroid era of inflated offensive numbers. Still, in 17 seasons with Boston he finished third in franchise history in wins (186) and second in strikeouts (2,046).
4. Wilbur Wood » This stat is indicative of his era and his pitch, but in 1972 the left-handed Wood pitched 3762Ú3 innings. From 1971 to 1975, the fewest starts he made in a season were 42. During this stretch he won 106 games and finished with 164 overall.
3. Eddie Cicotte » He was banned from baseball as part of the Black Sox Scandal following the 1919 World Series. But before then, Cicotte, considered the inventor of the knuckler, was dominant. In 14 seasons he won 209 games and had a 2.38 ERA.
2. Hoyt Wilhelm » In 1985 he became the first reliever inducted to the Hall of Fame. He won 143 games and saved 227 others. As a 29-year-old rookie Wilhelm won 15 games and posted a 2.43 ERA in relief. Wilhelm was an All-Star in five of his 20 seasons and finished with a career ERA of 2.52.
1. Phil Niekro » No knuckleballer won more games than the elder Niekro's 318. He earned five All-Star berths and even pitched a no-hitter in 1973. He led the National League in wins twice, winning 20 games three times. He even led the NL in ERA once. After turning 40, he won 121 games -- more than any pitcher in history.
- John Keim