Braves legend signs autographs

by Wes Mayer

alt

Phil Niekro shakes Michael Studley’s hand after signing a baseball at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet’s grand opening. 


For the Newnan store’s grand opening on Wednesday, local baseball fans flocked to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet to meet a special guest, Hall of Fame knuckleball pitcher Phil Niekro.

Niekro began signing autographs at 10 a.m., but fans arrived at the store as early as 7:30 a.m. to get their tickets to meet the former Atlanta Braves pitcher —only 250 tickets were available. Before meeting Niekro, fans shared their memories of seeing him play, and they arrived with spotless baseballs, Phil Niekro baseball cards, Atlanta Braves hats, baseball bats, photos and more for him to sign. Even Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager was among the fans who visited the store to meet Niekro.

“I actually used to hunt with him,” Yeager said. “I haven’t seen him in a long time.”

Some fans brought extraordinary items for Niekro to autograph. One couple, John and Greta Rundles, brought their replica Legacy Brick Paver brick. The replicas are given to those who donate to the Atlanta Braves through the Legacy Brick Paver program, and a real brick is laid at Turner Field. John Rundles said their brick is located at the base of Niekro’s statue at the stadium.

Another fan, Tony Knott, brought a chunk of marble for Niekro to sign. Knott said the marble was a piece of the original pedestal Niekro’s statue stood upon at the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Knott said he went to the stadium after it was demolished in 1997, and he managed to grab some of the pieces that happened to be part of the pedestal.

“I told him this is probably the most unique piece he’ll sign today,” Knott said.

Niekro, who is now 74, pitched his first major league game in 1964, retired in 1987, and he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. He was best known for his “knuckleball” pitch, which, while not easily controllable, was even more difficult for the batter to hit. In his career, during which he played for the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, he won 318 games and had 3,342 strikeouts.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is now open at the site of the former Kmart on 50 Bullsboro Drive. The store specializes in selling closeout, excessive inventory and salvage merchandise at discounted prices. Locations also opened in Duluth and Carrollton on Wednesday.



More Local

How will new illegals provisions impact Ga.?

President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration, announced Thursday, could provide temporary protection from deportation for f ... Read More


Leadership Georgia

Senoia’s growth in spotlight for conference

Members of the 2015 class of Leadership Georgia got a sneak preview at what is at the heart of the success story that is Senoia. On Thursday ... Read More


Bypass project is complete

After more than five years and millions of dollars, the Hwy. 34 Bypass/Millard Farmer Industrial Boulevard widening project is finally compl ... Read More


Senoians arrested in child porn operation

Two Senoia men suspected of either possessing or distributing child pornography were arrested this week following a three-month operation le ... Read More


Fill the Stocking fundraiser returns

Fill the Stocking is back. The Newnan Times-Herald’s program that lets generous people make donations to help the needy at Christmas & ... Read More

Maders help fund driveway for Salvation Army

Thanks to Steve and Nancy Mader, the Salvation Army service center in Newnan now has a donation drop-off drive-around to make donating easie ... Read More