A mainstay in the Cubs pitching rotation in the late sixties, Ken Holtzman was the first of the "stars" from the 1969 Cubs team to walk away. Traded to the Oakland Athletics in 1971 (for Rick Monday) Holtzman became part of the "characters of green and gold" who won three consecutive World Series' in '72, '73 and '74. Holtzman joined the staff with Vida Blue, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Blue Moon Odom and Rollie Fingers.
Holtzman's career started (rookie year was 1965) and ended with the Cubs (1979) but has later admitted that 1969 was "the most fun and exciting" single season ever. Holtzman has five championship rings (including the three mentioned, he also pitched for the division winning A's in 1975 and the 1977 World Series Champion Yankees). Holtzman is the winningest Jewish pitcher of all time with 174, surpassing Sandy Koufax.
Holtzman pitched two no hitters in his career both in a Cubs uniform. Pitching his first on August 19, 1969 at Wrigley field against the Atlanta Braves; some consider the last "good" thing that happened that summer for the Cubs. The Cubs went on to lose 7 of 9 after that August day and their fate had begun. That September of 1969 will always be remembered and never forgotten as the Cubs went 8 - 17. Holtzman himself went 1 - 5 in September yet finished the year with a 17-13 record.
His second no hitter was in 1971 and was the first recorded no hitter in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium history. Ken Holtzman was "perfect" in 1967, going 9 and 0, in a season that he pitched weekends only as he served his role in active military service. It is interesting to note that many players of that day had military service commitments and many baseball cards reflect that involvement.
Ken Holtzman always remembers 1969 as the year he had "fun" in losing, the fans of Chicago always remember the "fun" Holtzman too.
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