|Tribute to Hall of Fame writer Jerome Holtzman||| Print ||
Written by Rob Swift (Contact & Archive) on July 24, 2008
On Saturday July 19th, baseball Hall of Fame sportswriter Jerome Holtzman passed away.Â Just like that, the sport lost one of its most prolific advocates in journalism.Â The first thing I thought when I found out was â€śthat really sucks.â€ť Please pardon my â€śhigh societyâ€ť prose, but having been a fan of Mr. Holtzmanâ€™s down-to-earth writing style, I think he would approve.
Letâ€™s be realistic though folks. Mr. Holtzman was 81 years old and had been sick for some time, so the news wasnâ€™t exactly a shock.Â However, for fans of his writing, it stung a little bit; to me it felt like losing that Uncle or Grandfather who used to tell stories about the â€śgood old days.â€ť
A perfect picture of the â€śAmerican Dream,â€ť the story of his life could be an award-winning Hallmark movie.Â Raised in a Chicago orphanage, he started as a copy boy at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1942.Â Soon thereafter, duty called and he served for two years in the Marine Corps during World War II.Â
After returning home, he went back to work at the Sun-Times and it was there he would meet Marilyn, the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his life.Â They were married in 1949 and went on to raise five children together.Â In 1957, he was assigned as a beat writer and would spend the next 50 years as a baseball writer, historian, and innovator of the game.
This weekend, Goose Gossage will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I find this to be a unique and fitting tribute to Mr. Holtzman.Â Gossage will be just the fifth relief pitcher to have his bronzed plaque hung in Cooperstown and if it werenâ€™t for Jerome Holtzman, none of them would be there.
In the late 1950â€™s, Mr. Holtzman felt that relief pitchers had no way of gauging their success.Â In order to be able to quantify their contributions, he devised a formula and in 1959, he created the â€śsaveâ€ť.Â Ten years later, Major League Baseball incorporated the stat into the game and, thus, the â€ścloserâ€ť was born.
So whether inventing a whole new position, writing about the game for half a century, or being named as Major League Baseballâ€™s official historian, Jerome Holtzman made a serious impact on the National Pastime.Â He was a great writer and a good man who will be missed by fans and players alike, whether they realize it or not.Â