if you didnt grow up in chicago

you probably dont know jerome holtzman who died today at 81

but if you love baseball, and youre not a faker, you should respect “the dean” because not only did he cover Chicago baseball beautifully for decades, but he invented a little thing called The Save that not only gave kudos to closing pitchers, but, if you ask me, changed baseball because it made that stat one of the most valuable in the box score. and it created not just a new stat column but a new way of thinking about pitching, pitchers, and how to help end a game.

Holtzman came up with the formula for baseball’s “save” rule in 1959, a move to acknowledge effective relief pitching. In 1969 it was adopted as an official rule, the first major addition to baseball statistics since runs batted in were recognized in 1920.

“The reality is, he revolutionized baseball,” former Sun-Times columnist Bill Gleason said. “He glamorized the relief pitcher, who was just another guy before [the save rule].”

Holtzman wrote six books, including the classic “No Cheering in the Press Box,” an oral history of baseball as recounted by 24 sportswriting legends such as Paul Gallico, Shirley Povich and Red Smith. The book, published in 1974, was reissued in 1995 with six new chapters and remains a popular text in college journalism classes.

“He was the consummate writer,” said George Vass, a former colleague and friend who collaborated with Holtzman on two books. “No one was ever more dedicated and clear-minded about the sport, those who played it and wrote about it.”

After Holtzman retired as the Tribune’s baseball columnist in 1998, Selig hired him as baseball’s official historian. – Chicago Tribune

in what must have been a dream come true, for 28 years holtzman covered both the Cubs and the sox, often switching beats after the all star break.

Holtzman was always primed for a big scoop, including the news during the 1974 World Series that Oakland pitching star Jim “Catfish” Hunter would be granted free agency after A’s owner Charlie Finley failed to honor certain provisions in his contract.

“He beat everybody on the beat,” Gleason said. “It was during a World Series, and he was so far ahead of everybody it was amusing.”

Holtzman also was a hard-bitten reporter who didn’t back down from those he covered, most notably then-Cubs manager Leo Durocher. Holtzman once bragged he had spent an entire season not talking to Durocher because the volatile manager had slighted him.

really great picture of him sitting next to former Cubs manager don zimmer here.

Leave a Reply