Part one of an interview with Ken Holtzman, retired Major League pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, for the television special, “Once A Star.” The interview, conducted by Roger Wallenstein, focuses on Holtzman’s career after baseball as an insurance administrator. Holtzman discusses how being an ex-ballplayer is sometimes a disadvantage in his career, and comments in-depth on "dumb jock syndrome." Timecode onscreen.
00:00Copy video clip URL Tape begins with color bars.
00:10Copy video clip URL The interviewer and camera person explain the format of the interview to Ken Holtzman, also engaging in some friendly kidding while the camera zooms in and out on Holtzman.
00:40Copy video clip URL The interviewer asks Holtzman to comment on the stereotype of former athletes selling insurance. Holtzman discusses his history with the business side of baseball and his training as a licensed stockbroker, explaining that he was uniquely qualified to make a smooth transition to a post-baseball career in the insurance business.
02:39Copy video clip URL Holtzman describes his motivation for pursuing business training during his baseball career: “I was basically unsure of myself. I can recognize that my career could end any moment due to an injury or not being good enough, and I better start preparing for what I am going to do for the rest of my life.” He points out that the salaries then were a fraction of what they are today. He stresses that “a career was very important, how I was going to earn a living the rest of my life? … It is not like I had deferred payments for the next 50 years like some of these players of today. No, I had to go to work and earn an income.”
03:16Copy video clip URL On playing baseball and being a stockbroker, Holtzman says, “It gave me contact with the public and gave me business training.”
03:44Copy video clip URL Wallenstein points out that there was no lull after Holtzman finished playing baseball in 1979. Holtzman replies, “The day I stopped playing was the day I got into the business.”
04:27Copy video clip URL When asked about how being “Ken Holtzman” works against him in business, Holtzman states, “Sometimes being an ex-baseball player and being in the public eye don’t work in my advantage in his business. I am required to have a technical expertise in some off the wall kind of field. I found some guys if they recognized my name and immediately doubt that there is any credibility. How can you be a major league baseball player and know what you know or what you have to know in your field?” He stresses that it does help him when it comes to opening doors. He says, “I got to see people that the ordinary salesman would not of gotten in the door.” Once he gets in the door, “I better know what I am talking about or no matter who I was or what I did I would be escorted to the door and thrown out.”
06:00Copy video clip URL Holtzman discusses the phenomenon of “dumb jock syndrome.” “I have talked to ex-players who have run across, who got into different fields, who have said they have run across that prejudice or bias. Not all the time but in certain areas, where they know who you are they say you must be a dumb jock… Which is why I tend to play it [his history as a baseball player] down… I was a professional baseball player and now I am a professional insurance administrator.”
06:59Copy video clip URL Holtzman explains where he thinks the “dumb jock” stereotype originated. “With some honesty, it was probably earned. Let me say ‘probably earned’ but keep it in context what Major League Baseball was like 30, 40 to 50 years ago.” He points out that in those days the players never had the opportunity to attend college. They played Major League Baseball from the time they were 17 up until their late 30s. Holtzman explains that most players who want to stay in baseball become coaches and can have 30 to 40 year careers. Holtzman goes on to say that many of the players in those days never were exposed to the real world, just the world of Major League Baseball. They never had the opportunity to get an education, so they could have another career outside of the game. “I never wanted to do that, I knew what I wanted to do the day I quit. I did not want to stay in the game in any other capacity.”
08:18Copy video clip URL Holtzman observes that over the last 10 or 15 years that the average Major League ballplayer is more educated and is coming out of the college ranks instead of the Minor League ranks.
08:30Copy video clip URL Holtzman talks about money in baseball and how in the past, players did not know how to handle money. Today’s professional players have attorneys and accountants who handle the business and contracts for them.
09:37Copy video clip URL Holtzman says that when he first got into Major League Baseball, he negotiated his own contracts at the age of 19, 20, and 21. Even though he was better of than most players at the time because of his business school training, he states, “I was really at a disadvantage talking to a general manager about how to negotiate and what to do with my money.” He stresses with agents and lawyers doing the negotiations today, it is a more of an even playing field. “Even though it resulted in higher salaries, never the less the players still benefit by having a professional look after them.”
11:08Copy video clip URL Holtzman talks about when his career in baseball finished. He states he only got physical enjoyment out of the game as a player and would not get physical enjoyment out of coaching or managing. When asked what is it in life now that replaces the applause or excitement? Holtzman states, “nothing. That does not mean I have to replace it.” He says he only enjoys the physical act of playing, not the publicity and the newspaper headlines, although he did enjoy the camaraderie with the other players and lifestyle of a baseball player. However, after he got married and had a family “the travel got to be a pain in the neck.”
13:03Copy video clip URL Holtzman states that “I was the antithesis of Reggie Jackson… Reggie seeks publicity and I shy away from publicity…. It is a relief being out of the public eye.”
13:49Copy video clip URL Holtzman discusses what he does miss about the game: “There is no replacement for the excitement of what it is like to pitch a Major League baseball game. It is that simple. I enjoyed that immensely: throwing the ball and trying to win the game, I do not think that there is anything in life that can compare with.” He emphasizes that although he played in five World Series, “I could not give an honest description of what it is like. It is something you have to feel, you just feel it.” Holtzman does not expect any other business to replace that feeling or thrill.
14:54Copy video clip URL Hotlzman states that he does not suffer when he is not recognized because he does not relish it. In his words, “It is nice to be liked occasionally.”
16:08Copy video clip URL End of tape.