Chairman, Natalie Niekro, of the 5th Annual Knuckle Ball…A Pitch for Life, on September 20th, at Hotel Zaza, is pleased to announce some of this year’s participating athletes who will be honoring her father and former Houston Astros pitcher, Joe Niekro. Over 40 MLB, NFL and NBA athletes will be attending and mingling with the guests. To name a few, will be:
- Nolan Ryan (Hall of Fame Inductee – 1999) – MLB Pitcher – New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers (1966-1993)
- Bert Campaneris – MLB Shortstop – Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, California Angels, New York Yankees (1964-1983)
- JR Richard – MLB Pitcher – Houston Astros (1971-1980)
- Dave Bergman – MLB 1st Baseman – New York Yankees, Houston Astros, SF Giants and Detroit Tigers (1975-1992)
- Bill Dawley – MLB Pitcher – Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics (1983-1989)
- Jeff DeWillis – MLB Pitcher – Toronto Blue Jays (1987)
- Jon Warden – MLB Pitcher – Detroit Tigers (1968)
- John Egan – NBA Point Guard – Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Baltimore Bullets, LA Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets (1961-1972), NBA Coach – Houston Rockets (1973-1976)
- Chester Pitts – NFL Offensive Guard – Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks (2002-2011)
Since Joe Niekro’s tragic and sudden death in 2006, as a result of a brain aneurysm, his daughter, Natalie established The Joe Niekro Foundation, committed to aiding in the research and treatment of brain aneurysms, AVM’s and hemorrhagic strokes. The foundation strives to raise awareness about the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while helping support the advancement of neurological research. TJNF provides public education and advocacy, support for patients and families, and develops awareness programs and educational materials for hospitals, clinics and other institutions nationwide.
Because of her father’s love for the Houston Astros and the city of Houston, it is only fitting that The Knuckle Ball be held in the city that gave the Niekro family their greatest memories. The evening, emceed by KHOU personality and brain aneurysm survivor, Deborah Duncan, features a festive reception, silent auction, formal dinner, LIVE auction and the opportunity to mingle with some of sports greatest legends.
Bobby Tudor will be honored as the Joe Niekro Humanitarian of the Year for his outstanding commitment and contributions to the Houston community. A portion of the funds from the event will be granted in the name of Bobby Tudor, to a Houston neurological department of his choice.
As many as one in fifty Americans will develop a cerebral aneurysm or AVM; 10-15% of these individuals will die before reaching the hospital and over 50% will die within the first thirty days after rupture. Of those who survive, over half suffer permanent neurological deficit. For more info, visit www.joeniekrofoundation.org/knuckleball.