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07/21/2008 5:41 PM ET
Legendary baseball writer and historian Jerome Holtzman passes away
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CHICAGO -- Jerome Holtzman, first official historian of Major League Baseball and "The Dean" of baseball writers, passed away Saturday in Evanston, Ill. Holtzman was 82 years old.

The consummate sports writer, Holtzman was totally dedicated to the profession he pursued with unwavering zeal, love and joy for more than six decades. If baseball had a Boswell, Holtzman was that individual. As well as writing the universally praised oral history of sportswriting, No Cheering In The Press Box, Holtzman was named the Official Historian for Major League Baseball by Commissioner Bud Selig in June 1999. Known as "The Dean" of American baseball writers, he was the baseball columnist and national baseball writer for the Chicago Tribune from 1981 to 1999.

"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," said Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball. "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.

"Those of us who knew him and worked with him will always remember his good humor, his fairness, and his love for baseball," Selig said. "He was a very good friend of mine throughout my career in the game and I will miss his friendship and counsel. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Marilyn, to his children and to his many friends."

"Baseball lost a great advocate and fan today, and I lost a dear friend," said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago White Sox. "I will miss his visits to the ballpark and his phone calls during the season to discuss the latest baseball news. In the way baseball is covered by the media, in the creation of the save rule and in the history and tradition of this game, Jerome truly left his mark on the game he loved and followed passionately for decades. Perhaps no one other person has done as much to promote the game of baseball to millions. There is no greater tribute or legacy a person can leave behind for future generations of baseball fans."

Holtzman joined the Tribune in 1981 after 38 years at the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Times, its predecessor. He began his newspaper career as a sports department copy boy in June 1942 at the age of 17. After serving two years in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, Holtzman returned to the newspaper in September 1946 and covered high school sports for the next 11 years. He was assigned to Major League

Baseball in 1957 and traveled with the Cubs and White Sox for 28 years, dividing his time between the teams. As a nationally-recognized baseball columnist, Holtzman covered Major League Baseball's jewel events, the All-Star Game and World Series, and broke countless national news stories.

Holtzman was the patron saint of the baseball bullpen. Aware that earned run averages and won-lost records were not the most accurate index of the effectiveness of relief pitchers, he created the formula for "saves" in 1959. A decade later, in 1969, it was adopted by the game's Official Rules Committee, becoming the first major new statistic since runs batted in (RBI) was adopted in 1920.

In 1989, the Baseball Hall of Fame presented Holtzman with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, given annually to the one baseball writer who has exhibited "meritorious contributions to baseball writing." The Wall Street Journal, in a 1984 profile, described Holtzman as "the quintessential baseball writer."

Holtzman served eight terms as Chairman of the Chicago Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), and in 1966 was elected the National President of the BBWAA. He was a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee from 1997-2001.

In addition to his newspaper work, Holtzman wrote a column for Major League Baseball after his appointment as Official Historian. Holtzman also authored scores of magazine stories, and a 20,000-word entry on baseball in The Encyclopedia Britannica, for which he served as consultant. For many years he wrote The Summary of each season for The Official Baseball Guide. His byline appeared in more than one thousand consecutive weekly issues of The Sporting News, quite possibly an iron-man record.

Holtzman wrote six books, in addition to the classic No Cheering in the Press Box, published in 1974, and reissued in 1995 with six new chapters. His other books are Three and Two, a biography of the late National League umpire Tom Gorman; Fielder's Choice, an anthology of baseball fiction; The Commissioners, an exploration of baseball's top office; Jerome Holtzman on Baseball; the Chicago Cubs Encyclopedia and Baseball Chicago Style, the last two co-written with George Vass.

Holtzman won four Stick of Type Awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1996 was chosen Chicago Press Veteran of the Year.

He attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago and was married to his wife Marilyn for 59 years. They have five children: Alice Barnett of California, Arlene Disch, Catherine Holtzman, Janet Holtzman of Wilmette, and Jack Merrill of Los Angeles; and five grandchildren - Genevieve, Conrad, Philip, Natalie and Melanie. Burial will be private and a memorial service will be held at a later date.
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