White Sox unveil Holtzman tribute
Official MLB historian's career honored with display
CHICAGO -- When Jerome Holtzman, the "Dean" of baseball writers and the first official historian of Major League Baseball, passed away at the age of 82 on July 19, 2008, the White Sox honored him with a memorial service two weeks later at the U.S. Cellular Field stadium club.
That particular service, involving Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf among the numerous guests, actually led to another more permanent honor for Holtzman, presented in a ballpark ceremony prior to Friday's Crosstown Showdown with the Cubs. The display, representing Holtzman's career covering baseball, was unveiled by manager Ozzie Guillen and Reinsdorf in a case currently residing next to the 2005 White Sox World Series trophy.
The memorial featured photos, headlines and artifacts from Holtzman's five decades of work, not to mention a cigar. One of those artifacts was a treasured typewriter from Holtzman, a gift sent along to Reinsdorf by Holtzman's wife, Marilyn, along with a thank-you note following last year's memorial service.
Reinsdorf immediately contacted White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert and instructed Reifert to figure out the best way to put this piece of history where everyone could admire it.
"It's his typewriter. He used it," Reinsdorf said. "Marilyn sent it to me and I had it in my office, and I thought it really needs to be shared and it ought to be part of something bigger. I thought I would be selfish if I kept it to myself."
"When Jerome was covering, there wasn't Internet, there weren't that many talk shows, that many microphones around you," said Guillen, who was featured in the display in a picture with Holtzman, as was Reinsdorf. "He did it the tough way. Now you sit at the computer and send in something through e-mail. This guy had to write, type on an ugly machine and get it done. That's not easy. He helped the game, and that's what we need."
Holtzman is credited with creating baseball's save statistic. Reinsdorf credited Holtzman with being so much more than one of the game's greatest reporters, as did many of the reporters who Holtzman mentored, in attendance on Friday.
"I said this at the memorial service: He was a great friend and a mentor," Reinsdorf said. "We used to talk on the phone all the time.
"He had a wonderful life, a great life, so many stories. He was a unique guy. He had integrity. When he was going after a story, he had phenomenal sources. He really enjoyed what he was doing, and he enjoyed everyone that he worked for and mixed with. He had a passion for the game."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.