Quick now, who was the last pitcher-manager in the majors? Somebody asked Phil Niekro, the Atlanta Braves' ace knuckleballer, who he'd like for manager now that Dave Bristol has been canned and Nekro said, "How about me?"
Niekor, an 18 year veteran of the Brave organization who plans to go right on pitching in any event, turns 39 next April Fool's day but he's serious. "I'd take it right now," he said. "If Ted Turner walked through the door . . . and said, 'You're the manager.' I'd go home and start putting spring training together.
"If I didn't think I could do it. I wouldn't say anything about it. I've sat back and kept my ears open and my mouth shut and I've learned a lot . . . I think I've got some ideas that would straightened our ball club out. I really do."
'Turner, who said it was the Braves' directors who fired Bristol, the first he heard about it was during his Atlanta Hawks' NBA games vs. Boston in Hartford Tuesday night, ventured, "Phil probably could manage as well as most of them." Owner Turner has one game's experience as field skipper, you know. . .
Turner also has the better part of a baseball season's experience as an owner suspended for tampering and here's Bowie Kuhn considering a similar charge againt the Texas Rangers. The commissioner conducted a 2 1/2-hour hearing in Dallas yesterday on the charge, filed by Calvin Griffith of the Minnesota Twins over Ranger overtures in the direction of American League RBI champion Larry Hisle, Griffith says remarks by Ranger general manager Danny O'Brien on Sept. 19 hindered his effort to sign Hisle, who played out his Minnesota option. What O'Brien purportedly said, that Texans were generous people and would open their checkbooks for Hihle, sounded a lot like the Turnerisms re Gary Matthews, before that outfielder left the San Francisco Giant's for the Braves, that brought Kuhn's fist down. Free-agent rules forbid showing specific interest in any player until Nov. 1; Kuhn, flew back to New York to ponder the new case . . .
Nice thought of the Washington Touchdown Club, the Salate to the Yankees luncheon they'd planned for today, but it's postponed indefinitely. No way to get any Yankees to sit still and break bread together that long??? . . . Nice thought by pinstripe manager Billy Martin, he sent the No. 1 shirt off his World Series Game Six back seat and all to baseball fan Robert Violante in Brooklyn Violante is the young fellow recovering from a wound (it left him blind in one eye) sustained during Son of Sam's last 44-caliber gun attack . . . David paterno, 11, has gone home to comvalesce from the skull fracture he suffered in a trampoline fall Oct. 7. Now Papa Joe Paterno can worry about the bid by the Miami Hurricanes' pass defense - No. 1 in the nation and featuring linebackers Earl Monrue and George Halas, no relation to The Pearl and Papa Bear - to prevent Penn State's Chuck Fusina from moving past Tom Shuman into the No. 2 Nittany Lion career passing yardage spot. . .
Christ Evert, whose old beat Jimmy Connors tore a groin muscle in a match at Perth, Australia. Tuesday when he "slipped on a line and did the splits," says she is recovering from what her doctor describes as the "beginning of a stress fracture" in her left leg. Evert is preparing for the $250,000 Colgate series championship but says she is tired and does not plan to play in the Virginia Slims circuit next year - well, maybe a couple of tour stops, but not the opening Slims in Washington, Jan. 2-8 . . . Stephanie William is nice enough to have sent us media hand-written notes for bringing her to attention before she made it big; so we can be nice enough to remind that on Wide World of Sports, WJLA-TV-7, 5 p.m. Saturday, William stars in the japanese Invitational gymanastics meet (taped).
ARM AND HAMMER - Only managers since turn of the century who assigned themselves regular duty on the mound were Clark Griffith, 1901-02 with Chicago (A), his 24-7 pitching helping win 100 1901 pennant, and 1903-07 with New York (A) and Kid Nichols, 21-13 as pitcher but 75-79 as manager of 1904 St. Louis (N), then 1-4 pitching and 19-29 managing, and gone early in 1905.
LEG AND ANCHOR - The Post's expert on how far Jack Nicklaus will finish out of the lead in the golf biggles, Colman McCarthy, showed how many strokes back he can finish himself as a runner, in Sunday's New York Marathon, in a shappy 3129 for the 26 miles plus. McCarthy placed 1,885th among nearly 5,000.