Chicago sportswriter dies at 82

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO – Jerome Holtzman, a longtime Chicago baseball writer who made the Hall of Fame, created the baseball saves rule and later became Major League Baseball’s official historian, has died. He was 82.

Holtzman died Saturday in Evanston.

“As a baseball writer, columnist and historian for more than 50 years, Jerome Holtzman was a beloved figure and made an incredible impact on the game,” Commissioner Bud Selig said Monday in a statement.

“He created the save statistic which in turn increased the importance of the relief pitcher. He was a giant in his industry and a much deserving member of the writers’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Holtzman was named the winner the J.G. Spinks Award and a spot in the Hall of Fame in 1989. The award is given annually to the one baseball writer who has exhibited “meritorious contributions” to baseball writing.

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Known as “The Dean,” Holtzman worked 38 years at Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Times, its predecessor, before joining the Chicago Tribune in 1981. He wrote about baseball as a columnist and national writer until retiring in 1999 when Selig named him MLB’s official historian.

Holtzman began his career as a 17-year-old copy boy in 1942 and served two years in the Marine Corps during World War II before returning to journalism. He was assigned the baseball beat in 1957.

Feeling that earned run averages and won-lost records were not the most accurate reflection of relievers’ effectiveness, Holtzman created the formula for “saves” in 1959. A decade later, in 1969, it was adopted by the game’s Official Rules Committee.

“In the case of Jerome, every one of the closers over the last 30 years, or however long it’s been that they were able to quantify what Jerome invented and the amount of money they made because of his invention, should take out their checkbooks and write a gigantic check to whatever foundation or charity the family directs,” said broadcaster and former White Sox and Chicago Cubs pitcher Steve Stone. “Because he’s really the person responsible for being able to quantify what has become one of the most important positions on the field.”

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said baseball “lost a great advocate and fan … and I lost a dear friend.

“I will miss his visits to the ballpark and his phone calls during the season to discuss the latest baseball news,” he said.

Holtzman “truly left his mark on the game he loved and followed passionately for decades,” Reinsdorf said. “Perhaps no one other person has done as much to promote the game of baseball to millions.”

Holtzman also wrote for magazines, penned an entry on baseball in the Encyclopedia Britannica and authored six books, including “No Cheering in the Press Box,” in which he interviewed other well-known writers.

“He was an accomplished writer who earned respect both from his readers and from those whom he covered,” said Chicago Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney.