Honoring baseball writing legend
Holtzman created "save" statistic
As I walked into the inner sanctum of U.S. Cellular Field on Friday morning, I noticed a group of reporters following Ozzie Guillen back out into the lobby.
"They're unveiling something for Jerome," a reporter told me.
"Jerome" is former Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, "The Dean" of baseball writing in Chicago and across the country. Holtzman passed away July 21, 2008 after a rich life as an old-school newspaperman.
Holtzman, a J.G. Spinks inductee at the Hall of Fame, started covering baseball in 1959 and was best known for creating the save statistic.
The Sox honored Holtzman with a small, glass-encased memorial stand at the front of the small entryway. Inside the cylinder-shaped exhibit, along with some press badges, his book "No Cheering in the Press Box" and assorted photos, was Holtzman's old green Olivetti typewriter, which was given to Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf by Holtzman's wife of 59 years, Marilyn.
"He had a great life," said Reinsdorf, who counted Holtzman as a friend. "So many stories. He had a passion for the game and he enjoyed what he was doing."
Guillen was happy to honor Holtzman, and he thinks more clubs should follow suit and honor the men and women who decide who gets in the Hall of Fame.
Years ago, San Diego named its multipurpose monstrosity Jack Murphy Stadium after an old scribe. Now you know it as Qualcomm Stadium.
"This guy spent a lot of time in his life on the game," Guillen said of Holtzman. "He spent a lot of time he should've been with his family at the field, talking with the players, making baseball better, talking to the owners, talking with everyone."
The media that cover the White Sox generally enjoy it, because the clubhouses are spacious enough that you're not stepping over each other, and Guillen is such an open, quotable and ultimately likable manager. Reporters talk to the manager twice a day, so a good relationship with the manager is a luxury.
The media, as a monolithic entity, is not a dirty word for Guillen, who enjoys post-news conference chitchats with reporters and forces his players to be accountable at all times.
"One of the principles of my ballclub is you have to talk to the media, because the media is more important than the agents," Guillen said. "The media is a big part of the game now. How important is the media? They're the only people allowed in the clubhouse."
Guillen even used his audience with Cubs beat writers to poke fun at the often-surly denizens of Wrigley Field's cramped clubhouse.
"On the North Side, the baseball players, coaches and the manager, their relationship with the media is not the right one," he said, though I don't think he was referring to Cubs manager Lou Piniella specifically. "I think the relationship with the media has to be clear and honest. The communication is very important to the game. Fans know how the team does because of the media, not because we go out there and say it."
One slight hiccup with the Sox and the media came in 2007, when the Sox moved the press box two floors up from its spot on the second floor behind home plate, and way down the right-field line. For a while it was big news in baseball circles.
The old press box is now the pricey Jim Beam Club, where fans can drink and eat like Roman politicians. The new press box has free hot dogs in the third inning. So it's basically a wash.
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