Niekro in 2006
January 29, 1979 |
Winter Haven, Florida
|September 5, 2003, for the San Francisco Giants|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 2, 2007, for the San Francisco Giants|
|Runs batted in||79|
Lance William Niekro (born January 29, 1979) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) player. Niekro played one full season and parts of three others for the San Francisco Giants between 2003 and 2007. After his playing career concluded, he served as an assistant coach at Florida Southern College and then was elevated to the head coach position on May 9, 2012. He is the nephew of former MLB pitcher Phil Niekro and son of former MLB pitcher Joe Niekro.
Niekro was drafted out of Florida Southern by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 2000 Major League Baseball draft. He began his professional career as a third baseman, but moved to first base in the minor leagues due to injury. Niekro first reached the major leagues in 2003, but only had five at bats. He saw more substantial playing time in 2005, when he split time with J. T. Snow at first base and played in 113 games, finishing the season with a .252 batting average, 12 home runs, and 46 RBI in 278 at-bats.
Following the 2005 season, Snow and the Giants parted ways. As a result, Niekro was given his shot as the everyday first baseman, but was sent back down to the minors. During the 2006 season, his replacements were Mark Sweeney, Travis Ishikawa, Chad Santos and Shea Hillenbrand.
On May 4, 2007, the Giants designated Niekro for assignment and recalled Scott Munter from Triple-A Fresno. He was later optioned to Fresno when no other team claimed him. He became a free agent after the season. Like his father and uncle, Niekro can throw a knuckleball, and was first allowed to pitch professionally for the Grizzlies in August 2007.
On January 10, 2008, the Houston Astros signed Niekro to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. He was released on May 2, 2008 and retired, getting a job with a telecommunications company.
On December 18, 2008, Niekro decided to make a comeback as a knuckleball pitcher and was signed by the Atlanta Braves to a minor league contract. He pitched one season in the Braves' system, appearing in 14 games for the Gulf Coast League Braves in 2009 before becoming a free agent at the end of the year. In 2010, he was named an assistant coach at Florida Southern. On May 9, 2012, Niekro succeeded Pete Meyer as the head coach of Florida Southern Moccasins, a program that has produced the most NCAA Championships in Division II play (9).
- Henry Schulman (2008-12-18). "Ex-Giants infielder Lance Niekro launches comeback, as a knuckleballer". sfgate.com. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- Kepner, Tyler "Lance Niekro Dusts Off a Family Heirloom: The Knuckleball" The New York Times, Sunday, February 22, 2009
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2012-06-27.