Ken Holtzman


Ken Holtzman : biography

November 3, 1945 –

Later career

In the late 1970s Holtzman bounced around the major leagues. He was traded to the Orioles along with Reggie Jackson and Bill Van Bommell in April 1976 for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez, and Paul Mitchell. In June 1976 he was traded by the Orioles with Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Ellie Hendricks, and Grant Jackson to the New York Yankees for Rudy May, Tippy Martinez, Dave Pagan, Scott McGregor, and Rick Dempsey.

He posted a 12–10 record for the Yankees over three years, but saw his playing time increasingly limited, and did not appear in the 1976 or 1977 postseasons with New York due to owner George Steinbrenner being disappointed by his performance and refusal to meet his demands. Steinbrenner tried unsuccessfully to force Holtzman – the Yankees’ union representative – to waive his no-trade clause, and used relegation to the bullpen as punishment for Holtzman’s resistance.

He tied Koufax’s record for the most wins by a Jewish pitcher in 1977, and passed him in 1978; in 1978 he also passed Larry Sherry’s record for Jewish pitchers of 416 appearances.

In June 1978, after making only 5 appearances, he was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs for Ron Davis. He ended his career with Chicago in 1979, going 6–9 with a 4.59 ERA.

Over 15 years he had a record of 174–150 with a 3.49 ERA, 1,601 strikeouts, and 31 shutouts in 451 games and 2,867⅓ innings. He held batters to a .220 batting average with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. His 80 victories with Chicago were the fourth most by a left-hander, behind Hippo Vaughn (151), Larry French (95), and Dick Ellsworth (84).

He received four votes in Baseball Hall of Fame voting in 1985, and 5 in 1986.

In 1998, Scott Radinsky passed him to become the major league leader in appearances among Jewish pitchers. Through 2010 his 174 career victories were the most in the major leagues all-time by a Jewish pitcher (directly ahead of Sandy Koufax), his 1,601 strikeouts were second (behind Koufax) and his 451 games were second (behind Scott Schoeneweis), and his 3.49 ERA was fifth (behind Koufax, Radinsky, Barney Pelty, and Erskine Mayer).

Early career

Holtzman played ball on the University City High School team, graduating in 1963. He then attended the University of Illinois, graduating with a B.A. in Business Administration, and was selected by the Cubs in the 1965 amateur draft. Holtzman pitched 12 games in the minor leagues in 1965, going 8–3 with a 1.99 earned run average.