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Niekro's empty pockets

Niekro’s empty pockets

Aug. 3, 1987: Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Niekro has to empty his pockets following a request from umpires at Angel Stadium.

Times staff writer Mike Penner reported:

The emery board was made for fingernails, not knuckles or knuckleballs or any type of baseball. So when one popped out of the back pocket of Minnesota Twins’ pitcher Joe Niekro during the fourth inning of Monday night’s 11-3 Angel loss, Niekro soon found himself out of the game.

After the third pitch Niekro delivered to Brian Downing in the bottom of the fourth, home plate umpire Tim Tschida stopped play and ordered Niekro frisked. Tschida had Niekro pull out all of his pants pockets and with 33,983 fans at Anaheim Stadium looking on, there Niekro stood, looking like a penniless pauper.

He had enough money to invest in an emery board, however. The umpiring crew discovered it during the search, resting on the infield grass.

Niekro had tried to slicker Tschida and Co., pulling out his back pockets with one motion, bringing both arms over his head and–flick!–discreetly dumping the file on the ground.

It was a nice try, and it look so s-m-o-o-t-h on instant replay, but Niekro couldn’t fool the umpires this time. They picked up the board and classified it ” a foreign object.”

Niekro was ejected and given 10-day suspension by American League President Bobby Brown. On YouTube is this contemporaneous TV news report video of Joe Niekro and the emery board.

A different photo of Niekro’s ejection by staff photographer Robert Lachman in the Aug. 4, 1987, Los Angeles Times. This photo was published in the Aug. 7, 1987, Times accompanying a follow-up story on Niekro’s ejection.

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