Part of an interview of Ken Holtzman retired Major League pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees by Roger Wallenstein for the television show, “Once A Star.” In this segment of the interview Holtzman discusses his relationship with the Cubs manager, Leo Durocher, and also with what it was like to play in the majors in the mid 1960s through 1970s.
00:00Copy video clip URL Begins with Holtzman talking about Leo Durocher.
00:03Copy video clip URL “If Leo asked me to pitch everyday, I would-of-done it, I was young, and I never had a good arm. He put me in relief I remember in the ninth inning against some left-handed pitcher from Atlanta.” Leo said, “just go out there and threw the best you can, and I did.” The first pitch I throw went out of Atlanta Stadium. I was brought down to earth real quick.”
00:22Copy video clip URL Holtzman is asked about his relationship with Leo Durocher. “Had an average relationship like any other player on the Cubs. Some players like him others hated him.” Holtzman expressed that a relationship with Leo could change day-to day basically. “It changed, one day you got a long with him, and another day Leo would not be in your corner at all.”
00:39Copy video clip URL Holtzman explained that Leo was 65 years old when he started managing the Cubs in 1966. Holtzman goes on to say, “Leo is very knowledgeable about baseball and is a “store-house of knowledge.”
00:50Copy video clip URL “What happened was that he was [accustomed] to coaching back in the 1940s and 1950s. Players were different at that point, it was just different.”
00:58Copy video clip URL Back-in-those days, if you told a player’s to go through a brick wall they would do it unquestionably. The authority of the manager was absolute,” states Holtzman.
01:07Copy video clip URL Holtzman explains the change in player’s attitudes with the start of the 1960s through the beginning of the 1970s. “Players became more educated and sophisticated. You could not tell a player just to blindly run through a wall, you better have to have, a good reason to tell them to do that. I do not think Leo ever made the transition from the old time player to the modern player.”
01:25Copy video clip URL Holtzman states, “The modern player has something to contribute to strategy or something to that effect.” Then Holtzman continues this was not the case in Leo’s experience in the past the way managers used to manage. Holtzman states that Durocher “ he could never come to grips with that. That a player could be on equal level as he did, it led to some problems with not just me but it several of the other Cubs.”
01:51Copy video clip URL Holtzman discusses what it was like playing professional baseball during the time of the Vietnam War, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He says that what goes on outside the ballpark has an influence and effect on what happens inside the ballpark.
02:12Copy video clip URL “I have heard that Major League Baseball is a very good reflector of society in itself.” Holtzman talks about playing baseball in Oakland in the mid 1970s. “The ball park is no longer than three miles from the University of California at Berkley.” Holtzman expresses that “we were not much older than the fans, we were in our early and mid 20s. He says the students at Berkley, were protesting and I guess a lot of us felt the way they did. We were not that far removed.”
02:42Copy video clip URL Holtzman discusses the strong identification with the Oakland A’s with there long hair and the anti-establishment appearance and the colored uniform. Then he compares that with the 1975 World Series against the Reds who were the opposite as he puts it. He remembers one of the newspaper headlines, “It was billed as the hairs vs. the squares.”
03:00Copy video clip URL “We were just immensely popular in Berkeley, California.” He was talking about how the ballplayers enjoyed playing and having fun.
03:47Copy video clip URL Holtzman discusses how he was in the military reserves in 1967. He was pitching real well, won his first five games, and then he was called for active duty for nine weeks. He was let out on the weekends and was allowed to pitch for the Cubs.
04:04Copy video clip URL He expressed, “when I would show up on the weekends to pitch, the Cubs would score eight or ten runs and make it easy on me. You cannot layoff a week and then show up and do what I did. It was just luck and I wound up 9 and 0.”
05:00Copy video clip URL Holtzman was asked about when he came up to the majors, “You were a left hander, Jewish, and it was Koufax’s last year in the majors,” Holtzman pointed out that he came up in 1965 and 1966 was Koufax’s last season. He was asked “What was it like for you?” Holtzman replied, “I did not give it much credence, he was kind of my idol.
05:29Copy video clip URL He tells the story of his first road trip which was to Los Angeles and that he was instructed by his mother as he says laughingly, “If you don’t get Sandy’s autograph, don’t even bother coming home after the season is over.”
05:45Copy video clip URL He was scheduled to pitch that day. “I pitched batting practice and if you are a student of the game, you know that was the game he pitched a perfect game against the Cubs.”
06:00Copy video clip URL Holtzman stated, my last game in 1966 was against Sandy Koufax and that was the last regular season game that he ever lost. The Dodgers went into the World Series and lost to Baltimore. But I was the last regular season pitcher to beat Sandy,” This was sometime in September of 1966, the Dodgers lost 4 to 1.